Category Archives: Pregnancy

The Baby Name Wizard and other resources

My husband and I have got to decide a name for Baby Bean, or the unfortunate child will be left with that nickname for rather longer than we had hoped. We are now in the third trimester, or Creme Egg Season, as it so happens. My bump is still so small I have to tell people I am expecting – and in just 10 weeks. There are surprisingly few reactions to that.

It is not easy naming somebody, but there are some great internet resources these days. Take NameVoyager. You type in a name, or part of a name, and see how popular it has been in the States over the past 130 years. Ok, so it’s not the UK, but it is instructive. And the website has more to help too, such as feedback on lots of names, and what sibling names people have had.

I also think the site Nymbler is a fantastic resource and great way of coming up with new ideas without having to trawl through books of names listed in alphabetical order. It puts us firmly in the Boho Chic category.

That said, our usual trick is to try and think of something everyone will like. It was easier the first time. Now we have to think of names that don’t clash with Elizabeth or Lily. And I am not the kind of person who likes names to run in patterns in families, so no more obviously royal or floral names, and nothing that rhymes with Lily. We are also trying to avoid certain initial combinations now, which rules out lots of lovely E-, L- and M- names. And I love a good nickname. Not easy. Do we want a name that may rule out Bean’s future in politics or medicine on the grounds it sounds too quirky or trendy, or that rules them out of making friends with everyone, because their name is a little ostentatious? How many everyman names are there that are easy to spell and not so common that our common surname renders them ungooglable? Or untextable?


Up in smoke?

Chocolate bars

Ok, so my favourite chocolate bars have just been sold to a large American corporation today. All I own is a single Crunchie bar, and I may have to save it for a rainy day if the doom-sayers get what’s coming to them. Apparently Kraft are owned themselves by a cigarette company.

Where is all this heading?

Well, I have tried American chocolate. Even the good stuff is only good for burning.

Does chocolate burn? Or perhaps it’s better applied to burns. Especially in rural places.

“There’ll be no chocolate in hell, I tell you”…

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.

No more Noughties

Is it already 2010? I’m not sure I even know how to pronounce 2010, let alone behave in it.

Last week I began musing the events of the decade just finished from a purely self-centred perspective and realised that it is far and away the most eventful decade of my life to date, and could well remain so.

In the 3653 days since I sat in my home-made Millenium Dome Tent at mum and dad’s and saw in the New Year (long story, involving being prevented from attending any party my brother or sister had plans to go to, and not getting around to going to London as I had promised myself a dozen years before), I have:

1. Kept a video-diary, a diary-diary and a blog.

2. Graduated. (Twice.)

3. Worked in one shop, two prisons, three schools, a college and a university.

4. Met and married an amazing man.

5. Moved into a family home and started a family.

6. Trained as a proper teacher.

7. Taken turns drumming, preaching, as a deacon, in the creche and volunteering with countless young people through church.

8. Travelled to Israel, the United States and Sri Lanka, thus extending my continent-count significantly.

9. Averted a mid-life crisis by taking up the saxophone in my early thirties.

10. Failed to get to London (or any other place of note) for the New Year celebrations every single year.

I have also watched my dad recover from his heart attack and my little brother become a dad (twice). Good friends and family members have died. Others have moved away, but most have kept in touch by means most appropriate to their circumstances. I have struggled enormously with some of life’s challenges, but found God to be faithful and loving throughout. I have been blessed with so much, and want to be a blessing to so many others.

Perhaps in the coming 10 years or so, I can try and do that. I will not make resolutions this year. But I am grateful for all that this century has brought so far, good or bad, and look to do my best with whatever God has given me going forward, whatever the future may bring.

God bless, and a happy and healthy 2010 to you.

The goose got too fat

I’ve just been called by my goose-supplier to tell me that they can’t source 3-4 kg geese, and are we all right to take a 5kg one?

Does no one listen to nursery rhymes these days?

It’s my fault I suppose for wanting to stage that crucial Rite of Passage of all housewives… preparing a Christmas roast. Unfortunately my dad (top-notch housewife, when it comes to roasts) has put his foot down and insisted on stuffing his entire clan with turkey on the 25th. So I am left to consider doing something out of Good Housekeeping and entertain my brother and his clan with a goose during their stay. A large one, as it happens. (I was going to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving, but missed the date and forgot. This is something I think we must all be thankful for. I’ve never cooked anything larger than a chicken).

I have a feeling that goose is healthier for the heart than some meats, but I may be wrong. I will have to ask dad, or assume he remembers to correct me next time I see him.

Given that I have recently discovered a pregnancy aversion to small feathered game and a craving for kangaroo (surely the bounciest and most exciting meat ever), I feel I may need a bigger oven in due course, but Suffolk delis apparently don’t sell it. Something about food miles I figure. How inconvenient. We ship lamb over for Easter all the time from the antipodes.

In other festive news, we beat the rush and bought our tree just before our local tree-suppliers ran out. Then realised that these big trees need more decorating, and had to ask should we decorate the window-side (for the neighbours) or the room-side (for ourselves and guests)? The jury is out, and so is the tree, until the room is ready for it.

We are sending very few cards this year and intend to do a letter next year, by which time we may have thought of a name for the baby (you have to put this sort of thing in Christmas cards). He or she is due at Easter and by Christmas will hopefully be learning piano and harp and playing tennis regularly with a view to Wimbledon by the Olympics. It’s not that we don’t love our friends and family. We just forgot to listen to the rhymes, and by all accounts Christmas is coming.

Conversation Area

We all need to talk to our neighbours more, according to the BBC, who no doubt sponsored the Silver Jubilee street parties and appear not to have neighbours themselves (unless you count White City tube station).

I would have put links in that last paragraph, but I am pleading pregnancy again and wanting to be pragmatic.

Pragnancy, if you will.

Back to the point.

I live in a Conservation Area (note spelling) at the front of my house (Multimap Birds Eye view, North facing). The back doesn’t count, which is just as well as it needs a lot of doing doing. Near me and slightly upstream is a house which had a bomb diffused in it two years ago. It had recently been left by an aging brother and sister who were no longer aging to the Gentlewomen of Ipswich, c/o the Salvation Army. It is an old house. A large, old house. It would suit a film set well. Not the kind of film I enjoy. The front garden is overgrown and the whole thing is in a state of disrepair, although we did get ideas for our new front door from it by careful peeking through the undergrowth.

The Gentlewomen of Ipswich (c/o the Salvation Army), politely pointed out that great houses full of maintenance needs and undiffused WW2 bombs were not really what they were after and, being a fussy and persuasive lot, sold it to a property developer in March. The place, not the time.

I have not met this property developer, but I imagine I would not like to. I have not been her friend. She applied to build a new dwelling at the rear of the large house (it does have a large garden, reaching back to the road behind us, which is more than I can say for our garden). I did some pre-pregnancy thinking (the sort that works better for me), and realised that there would be consequences on the Conservation Area if parking were not adequately provided and retained at the back for both houses in the process. I also decided to complain about the number of trees she intended to remove in the garden, which conveniently hide our bathroom and daughter’s bedroom from the gaze of a low block of flats most seasons of the year.

Anyway, the dwelling was allowed to go ahead, with a vast number of restrictions. Including, satisfyingly, my parking objection. But not a lot was said about trees. I fear I may have to get a larger pot plant in the bathroom window. 

In October the developer from March put in an application to have the parking restriction removed, citing a few rather sketchy reasons. I was informed by a neighbour who was unable to make much of a fuss herself and who moved the planning notice to somewhere I was more likely to see it. Knowing my neighbours well enough: several are older, some are very busy with long hours or children, a few are new to the street, I realised that I was the person to get in touch with the council again. Very Wife of Noble Character and not a Threescore type of thing to do at all. I am not a letter-writer by habit and don’t usually complain about anything if I can help it.

It’s good to know your neighbours. It’s nice when they ask you to stand up for them. So I acted on their behalf. 

We heard that we won this week, so the developer cannot have it her way. The consequences would almost certainly have been detrimental to the street view in the long run, so I am pleased about that.

I am dreading the conversation with the neighbour who mentioned this to me though in the first place. She also wants ’20’s plenty’ signs put up along our stretch as we are near a primary school and a dangerous corner. Perhaps I should conserve my energy.

It’s not that catching

I don’t think pregnancy is catching. But the lack of brainage may be. My surgery just wrote to me, inviting me for a second swine flu jab. This may be because: (a) I fall in the pregnant and asthmatic categories, (b) they have made an admin error or (c) you know when you’re not sure you’ve done something, so you do it again, just in case? Maybe they are pregnant too. It’s not that catching, surely.

Dad has had a swine flu jab and says it makes him drowsy. Mine made me stay awake (all the time I wasn’t having nightmares) but I couldn’t say that wasn’t actually the pregnancy hormones.

This is the same surgery that put in a touch-screen for patients to check in not too long ago. I wondered how long that would last before some bright spark put cling-film on it. Until Tuesday, as it happened. It’s the kind of screen that asks you for your gender (not too hard), month of birth (takes a little thinking about these days) and date in that month (well, there’s a 1 in 31 chance of getting it correct by that point). I had often wondered, as many mathematically inclined people do, whether it would ever have to ask me my year of birth as well.

Well, that also happened on Tuesday. I watched furtively from my vantage point to see whether anyone looking like they were born exactly five years after me was going to turn up while I was waiting. I think they did, but hadn’t the nerve to ask.

The chances of this actually happening are quite slim, but not impossible. I won’t go into details here, but I remember studying maths at ‘A’ level and discovering that in order to have a 50% chance of two people in a room sharing a birthday, you only need 22 people. Maybe this is why facebook birthday announcements come in clumps. I have around 360 friends, and am as likely to have two people with a birthday on any given day as none. Although, of course, it is not as neat as that.

Forgive my ramblings again. My brain-to-keyboard connection is on auto-pilot. I have typed a lot of sermon today in preparation for Sunday and as a result  now know more about John the Baptist than I ever thought I could remember (or use). Did you know that he was neither Baptist, nor C of E, for example? And that he shares a middle name with Winnie the Pooh? And that he is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox church every Tuesday? None of these exciting details made it into the sermon notes I must confess.

However, learning more about his remarkable birth has been instructive. He really was far too Old Testament for the New Testament. That’s what comes of having older parents. And for the entire pregnancy his dad didn’t say a word. I bet Zechariah had a lot of listening to do with Elizabeth running around the house all hormonal and probably illiterate. I expect dinner parties were off the menu for the duration. Was he able to tell her he knew the sex, 2000 years before sonographic scans? Or even the name?

My own little Elizabeth is becoming more and more articulate herself, and is a delight. Today she made me write ‘Lily’, ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’ and then ‘Baby Bean’. It was touching – she has realised that we are expecting a baby at some level. She is very interested in dolls and caring for them at the moment. I never was. And, unfortunately, it is still not that catching.

Proud sisters

I was going to blog about the time I lent Jimmy Carter my hammer. Or, as dad points out, his hammer.

“Gee Lucy,”  I believe he said, “can I borrow your hammer?”

I was doing a Habitat for Humanity ‘blitz build’ in Hungary in 1996. It was wonderfully surreal. I only got on the team after memorising a phone number and saving some money from working in London for a year. I use the story when I want to illustrate how unlikely events in life can be. Of the ten houses we built in five days, I was on the same house as Jimmy and Rosalind. What are the chances?

However, hoping for a neat segue into my sister’s very recent HFH building efforts in Kenya proved unbloggable while she was away because I didn’t know how it was all going. Nor is it fair to make comparisons since she has returned. Why? Because now I find I am inordinately proud both of her and of our cousin, the team organiser and person who sacrificed her biythday (sic) while building houses with no straw in the African heat. I saw some photos on facebook of it all. Comfort zones were well and truly abandoned, and valuable lessons in building to Kenyan design and standards were learnt. I also noted there was no cement mixer. Result: a far more convincing and sacrificial effort than my American just-add-water approach in Vac. I see my sister is now offering to build houses in the UK. I’m sure this will wear off, but if it doesn’t, maybe I should hold her to it.

Talking of siblings, my daughter is now at the age I was when I became a sibling, as illustrated by figure (i), a rare glimpse of me on this blog, along with my little brother, taken in 1979.

Figure (i)

Now my daughter and I do share a silly sense of humour, so after going through my baby book with her yesterday and explaining that her uncle was not her cousin, we did a photo shoot. The result is in figure (ii). Note the lack of sibling. That would be explained by the fact that the sibling should not be arriving for another 19 weeks or so (see figure (iii)). Said sibling remains anonymous in all respects, and appears to be healthy and progressing well so we trust we will be thankful for what we get and find a name that suits in due course.

Figure (ii)

Figure (iii)

Proper Architecture

Since February I have been tentatively learning the saxophone, although I fear I ought to be practising a little more. I was sent a link the other day, which sums up how I feel some of the time when listening to music, but puts it far more eloquently. I don’t know if I can copy the video link in directly, but I would strongly recommend listening to Michal Levy’s animated short films Giant Steps and One, via this link:

Apologies, incidentally, if you have been checking this blog and getting frustrated when I haven’t been updating it as much recently. I have good reason, as my energy levels are particularly low while they work on supporting an extra little person, who we hope to welcome into the world around Easter time.

Which reminds me, I am starving.