Names I Love But Won’t Be Using

Max showing off his personalised cushion from J&PR. Thanks guys!

I’ve seen lots of people recently talking about names they love but won’t be using for their children, mostly on YouTube. I love the idea and really enjoy thinking about baby names so I thought I’d join in on here! If you have a blog or YouTube channel then please share your list too!

Girls:

Georgina – when I was six months pregnant with Alexandra, we went to Thailand and while we were bobbing around in the pool, we had a theoretical discussion about what we’d call a second baby. We quickly decided we loved Georgina and that it went perfectly with Alexandra, who we’d already named at this point. We loved the nicknames, especially Georgie, although did worry people would hear Alex and George and assume we had boys! When we got pregnant with Max, we knew straightaway that was our girl name.

Imogen – this was one of the names we discussed during the pool times and was probably our choice for the third girl we knew we’d never have. I love the nickname Immy and think it’s a beautiful name.

Zara – I regularly use a baby names board on a popular pregnancy/parenting website, just for fun, and I’ve seen Zara discussed a few times. I absolutely love it but as Dylan has an older daughter called Cara it would have never been on the cards for us.

Avie – Avie is the name that I probably would have called my daughter had I had one at any point in my very early 20s. It was the name of Dolly Parton’s mom and I remember falling in love with it the first time I read it. She was called Avie Lee but I loved the sound of Avie Cavanagh as I’d already chosen my little girl’s middle name at the time. I love it as an alternative to the more popular Ava/Evie type names. However I’m so glad now we didn’t use it for Alexandra as I don’t think it would have suited her.

Quinn – this is a unisex name but I’ve always imagined it on a girl, maybe because I grew up watching the American cartoon series Daria and that’s her sister’s name. I think it’s a really lovely name that works well for a baby and an adult.

Boys:

Oscar – this has always been one of my favourite boy’s names but Dylan doesn’t like it so it was discounted both times. I think it’s really cute and again works for a small boy and an adult. My sister had it  on her list too as we have a fair few joint boy favourites (but differ quite a lot on girl options!)

George – this was a name I put forward as an option when we were pregnant with our second, but again Dylan wasn’t keen. I guess as I love Georgina so much it makes sense but it wasn’t to be!

Noah – just like Avie, this was a name I was a huge fan of when I was a bit younger. Isn’t it weird that had I named my children five years ago on my own without any input from Dylan they would be Noah and Avie, but I actually own an Alexandra and a Max which are pretty different styles.

Ace – even though we’re quite traditional with our name choices, we stumbled upon Ace in the early days of number one pregnancy and it was on our boy list for a while. We ended up deciding our boy would be called Max and then obviously didn’t need the name anyway when he turned out to be a she. I still harbour a love for the name but Alexandra’s initials are ACE so I guess that’s the closest I’m going to get.

Clark – I don’t like all of the American surnamey type names but I do like Clark, and again it was on our boy shortlist the first time round although not the second time as we felt we needed a less modern name to go with his older sister’s. I also love Blake but as it’s the surname of one of my best friends it would have been a little weird!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Taking Two Under Two Out

Getting ready to leave the house is a day’s work in itself.

When Alexandra was tiny, leaving the house seemed like a massive feat, like a trauma that would surely involve tears (from both of us) and probably a poonami or two (hopefully just from her). Over time I gradually learned to become more confident about taking a tiny human being everywhere with me.

As most the time I’m going to fairly busy civilised places rather than travelling to the jungle or desert, I’ve learned you can pretty much always buy whatever you’ve forgotten or the baby’s ruined. Yes sometimes that’s meant buying an emergency pair of leggings from the supermarket or borrowing a nappy from a friend but clearly neither of those options are the end of the world.

What do you do if the baby cries? Well the simple answer is to have enough food on you to rule that out as the cause any time they cry and then to carry on like you would at home. Work your way through the list of possibilities until you stumble upon the correct one.

I quickly realised that everyone has run home in the rain having forgotten the pram cover, everyone has left a bottle top open and leaked liquid all over the change back, everyone has coped with a baby meltdown so bad they’ve just had to give the sorry eyes to anyone passing.

And then the game changed. I fell pregnant with number two. I then spent a lot of time worrying about how you could possibly take two out when there’s only one of you.

But just as I did with my first, you learn to adapt and you pick up tips along the way. Things like always ensuring you’ve got a snack for the toddler to have during baby’s feeds, even if they wouldn’t normally eat at that time, because they will get bored being strapped into the pushchair not moving for that length of time. Things like taking a blanket for the toddler so they don’t steal the baby’s because they will even if they don’t normally have one anymore. Things like what order to put them in and out of the car to avoid any issues.

Clearly I’m not perfect, I don’t have this parenting thing sorted just yet (does anyone?), mostly I’m just winging two under two. But my point is there is absolutely no need to worry. Parenting is suffocating at first but if you try to remain as calm as possible and not let the fear take over, you CAN get out of the house on your own. There is no need to be trapped. One day everything will click and you’ll look back and wonder why you worried. You got this!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two Survival Tips

We’ve now been the owners of two children under the age of two for eight weeks. So far, so good in that all four of us have survived the experience and the children have at least been fed regularly. I’d like to offer up some advice based on the small amount of two under two experience I have under my belt for anyone utterly mad enough to sign up for the crazy experience that is the newborn/toddler combo experience:

– Consider becoming a Pampers shareholder or finding out if Aldi offer staff discount and joining their workforce. The amount of nappies we’ve got through is hideous.
– Save your voice by recording the following phrases and playing them on repeat to your toddler through the day: gentle, careful, no that’s the baby’s, give that back to the baby, please don’t tread on/kick/sit on the baby.
– Accept that everybody leaving the house in some form of clothing is a bonus. If the baby’s in their pyjamas, the toddler has banana in their hair and you have sick down your leggings then it’s fine. You made it out the house and that’s some sort of minor miracle considering the likelihood of someone needing to eat, drink, have their nappy changed, nap, have a tantrum or any combination of the above at any one point in time.
– Just don’t even bother attempting to nap. You probably discovered about a week in to life with baby 1 that sleeping when the baby sleeps is some sort of bullshit advice given to you when you’re pregnant to lull you into a false sense of security about how easy this is going to be. If the planets ever align and you find both of your children are napping at the same time then do not under any circumstances bother closing your eyes (not even a long blink) or, heaven forbid, lying down. They will know. They will both wake up within seven milliseconds even if they’ve only just gone to sleep. They will both begin crying like they’ve never cried before and you will have to choose which one of them to console first while praying the other doesn’t explode they’re crying so hard.
– As above, don’t bother starting to cook some food you intend to eat hot, getting the iron out or dialling someone’s number for a chat. The best you can hope for is you manage to speed eat a packet of crisps and half write a text that you’ve been meaning to send for the last week and will forget all about for at least another month before finally sending.
– Don’t be afraid to let other people do things. With baby 1 you might have been mildly possessive and insisted on doing EVERYTHING. Now you have two, if someone wants to assist in any way then thou shalt bite their hand off and be forever grateful. Whether this comes in the form of occupying toddler while you feed baby, making you a cup of tea or just having a cuddle with baby so you spend some time playing with your firstborn. If you can find someone willing to do nappies (thanks mom!) then consider holding them hostage in your house.
– Pick a child each and sort that one out. Regularly swap which child you each entertain, otherwise one of you will be on a constant feed, wind, nappy change cycle while the other is forced to talk on repeat about dogs, ducks and stars (current favourite in our house – I never noticed how many stars there are on everything until it was pointed out to me every day).
– Let Mr Tumble babysit. There’s no shame in plonking the toddler in front of the TV, having a cuddle with the baby and just not doing much for a while.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two

The brighter and more mathematically minded among you will have worked out by now that Alexandra doesn’t turn two until late summer and we’re due our second baby in the spring, which means we’re soon joining the magical ‘Two Under Two’ club. I say magical, more apt words could include terrifying, scary or frightening.

There is probably no age gap in the world which is perfect and every family (and every child) is completely different so in reality, what works for one set of parents probably won’t work for another. I think it’s pretty much universally accepted though that popping out two tiddlers in less time than it takes for us to orbit the sun twice is either really brave or really stupid. We’ve been very open about the fact Baby 2 was a complete surprise to us, and I genuinely don’t know what we would have done had we planned to have him in terms of the timing (I suspect Alex would have been closer to two by the time we started trying but we’ll never know). As it was I was five weeks pregnant when we found out a few days after her first birthday that she was set to become a big sister, add in a planned early delivery on the cards for 2 and you’ve got yourself an estimated 19 month gap.

There are some positive things about Two Under Two (there are, right?): you don’t get used to more independence and no nappies and then have to go back to it all again, they’re more likely to enjoy the same things as they grow up because they’re similar ages, fewer years til both are in school and you can consider your career options, everything you learned with Baby 1 is fresher in your mind.

There are also some things which, quite frankly, scare me: what the hell do you do if they’re both crying at the same time, the likelihood of Baby 2 being a good sleeper considering we were so blessed with Alex is slim – can I cope with that on top of the daily demands of a toddler, Baby 1 is likely to try and climb on/poke/otherwise maim her brother if I leave them alone for even a second and most of all: two turd-factories to change all day, every day.

I’m sure that you just cope. Before I had Alexandra I just didn’t get how it all worked, even after I had her it took a long time before I was fairly confident both of us would survive the day until daddy got home. I’m sure the TV will be on more, I’m sure the hoover will be out less and I’m sure there will be more than one day where I phone Dylan to have a little cry even though the extent of how much he can help when he’s 20 miles down the road and working is very minimal. But I’m also fairly sure that we’ll get along okay.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

Take Two: The First Trimester

I’m writing this at the start of November at 14+6 so almost a week into my second trimester, but due to ‘announcement’ timings will be a few weeks further on before it gets published, just to clear up any confusion if I’m referring to being further along in other posts.

Back in April 2015, I wrote a blog about how I’d found the first trimester of my pregnancy with Alexandra (you can read it here). In it, I spoke a lot about tiredness and sickness and I sound generally like a very grumpy pregnancy lady (I was about 18 weeks when I wrote it). So when it comes to an update about this pregnancy and how the first trimester has been, it’s refreshing to be able to confirm it’s completely different!

We found out at five weeks, around the same time as we confirmed we were pregnant with Alex and, as before, I started feeling quite sick around that time (including a few actual vomit episodes. If you’ve ever been crouched over a toilet bowl chucking your guts up with a toddler stood next to you crying then I feel your pain!). I thought here we go again! But actually about a week later I stopped feeling sick and I’ve barely vommed since. Hurrah!

Food wise I haven’t had weird aversions like last time. Mostly with Alex I was disappointed I suddenly hated the thought of Diet Coke despite drinking it religiously beforehand. I’ve never actually gone back to drinking it so we don’t have that to contend with now.

I am always tired of course, but show me a toddler mom who isn’t! Luckily I’ve definitely got more energy than last time round. I don’t know whether it’s a baby gender thing, just because it’s a different pregnancy, because I’m on meds this time, or just because life decided I didn’t need two shitty first trimesters, but whatever it is I’m full of gratitude.

Obviously the first 14 weeks were a little more medicalised than last time. With Alexandra by this point I’d had one booking in appointment and one scan, with baby two I’ve had three scans, two booking in appointments, two haematology appointments, one cardiology appointment, one echocardiogram, one ECG, one rheumatology and obstetrics appointment and about ten blood tests. And this list is set to increase weekly during the second trimester. But clearly for good reasons.

 There’s not a whole lot else to report but I’ll definitely update at some point during the second trimester.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

15 Months Old

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Alexandra is 15 months old today, and I’m not going to do a spiel about how quickly time is passing because I do that every time! This month has been a pretty hectic one in terms of development.

Teeth: We’ve now got four! Alex is obviously working on the theory that slow and steady wins the race and we’re hoping she may have most of her milk teeth by the time she turns 25.

Walking: She’s pretty pro at walking now and has developed a hilarious diagonal run where she’s looking in a completely different direction to the one she’s going in.

Talking: This is where she’s made the most progress this month, this time last month we had daddy, mommy, nana, yes and no but now a whole host of words have been added to that list including there, oh dear, oops (which she says in a really high-pitched voice and it sounds more like oats, hilarious), hi, bye and didi which is how she says baby.

Social life: We joined Tumble Tots this month, which means every Wednesday Alex gets to go and be a budding gymnast for 45 minutes, she loves it but we both find it tiring! In my other posts I’ve also talked about how she’s also in the process of starting nursery, so she’s definitely got a lot busier!

Tantrums: We really struggled through a couple of weeks of this month – I don’t know whether it was teething pain, having a cold or she just generally wanted to be a nause for a bit but we were considering relegating her to the shed. Luckily she seems to have got a little bit better, I don’t know if that’s because of the new much busier schedule I mentioned above or what but I’m thankful either way.

Toys: Her favourite toys to play with at the moment are her shape sorter, dolly and pram and her new train set. She also loves lots of her teddies, especially her bunny and Piglet who both get snotty kisses multiple times a day. Lucky them! New games also include finding mommy’s eyes, nose and mouth (rather enthusiastically, so if you see me wearing a patch a la Gabrielle that’s why).

Overall a busy month with lots of ‘oh she’s never done that before!’ moments…

Harriet and Alexandra x

Is It Okay To Have A Favourite?

Very pleased with herself.

Very pleased with herself.

Sometimes in life it feels like parenthood is portrayed as one big party, as if from the moment of conception right through until your little darling has their own babies and beyond is just one big ball of excellent. Other sources will have you believe that bringing up a child is probably the worst thing you’ll ever choose to do and, if it doesn’t drive you to an expensive drinking habit, it will leave your life AND your hoo-ha in tatters.

In reality, like most things, it’s a little bit in between isn’t it? Some days you wish no matter how you much you love your little one that you could perhaps just have a poo in peace (sorry) or eat the entirety of your own snack that you bought just for you to eat because it’s your favourite (yeah, so not gonna happen. Fact: toddlers actually have special powers which enable them to be able to hear a wrapper opening no matter how quietly you do it in the other room. The powers increase in proportion with how much you were looking forward to eating the snack). Equally there are some days when you put them to bed and watch them sleeping and think about how amazing and cute they are and what an excellent thing you did by bringing this little snoozing angel into the world.

I think it’s also fair to say that everyone has their favourite bit of parenting. Some people relish the early days when you’re knee deep in sick, milk and more sick. Some people are just excellent at parenting moody teenagers. I’ve only been a parent for 14 months (I just googled out on interest and Alexandra will be 446 days old when this post goes live) so I’ll probably have to stick at it for a little while longer until I can evaluate where my strong points have been. But so far I have to say Alex was excellent at around six months old. I mean, I liked her before but around that age it just felt extra nice to be around her! I then quite liked the phase around ten/11 months where it seemed like she was learning new things every day.

14 months hasn’t been my favourite so far simply because she’s so GRUMPY! Tantrums galore and tiredness abundant, it’s been a long month!

Harriet and Alexandra x

The Shoe Saga

Showing off her wellies with daddy.

Showing off her wellies with daddy.

Generally in life, I find buying a pair of shoes to be an easy task. Go into shop, select pair you like, try them on, if they fit purchase them and go home happy. Simple. I’ve now found that purchasing a pair of shoes for a toddler is about 6462157622229856 times more complicated than this and has a lot more steps before a final happy purchase. The tale goes as such:

  1. Go into Clark’s (other retailers also available but let’s face it, it should be the law that you have to go to Clark’s).
  2. Ask nice lady to measure your child’s feet.
  3. Cue child screaming as if nice lady is coming at them with a knife.
  4. After five minutes of crying and squirming, nice lady says she thinks child is a 3.5E.
  5. Nice lady searches and comes back shaking her head, there are no shoes in a 3.5E.
  6. Go to second Clark’s outlet which is slightly bigger to check if they have a 3.5E.
  7. They don’t.
  8. Try third Clark’s outlet in different town, just to be sure.
  9. Nice lady 2 in Clark’s branch 3 asks if she can measure child’s feet.
  10. Nice lady 2 says she’s actually a 4F, which they DID have in original Clark’s branch.
  11. Leave store without even trying on a pair of shoes as child is so worked up it sounds like she’s being murdered.
  12. Return to branch 1 to tell nice lady 3 about the confusion.
  13. Decide to stick at it this time and endure a full on meltdown while nice lady 3 tries not to get kicked in the face as she measures child’s feet.
  14. Nice lady 3 says she’s a 3.5F on one foot and slightly bigger on the other.
  15. Try not to cry.
  16. Nearly kiss nice lady 3 when she suggests they may have some 4Fs that come up small which would be ideal.
  17. Choose between four options.
  18. First option leaves child (who is still screaming) walking on the side of her feet as if she’s modelling those rip-off Uggs which always lean horrendously.
  19. Consider just giving up and leaving child barefoot for life.
  20. Try option two which HALLELUJAH actually fit.
  21. Decide taking shoes off child will be too much hassle, child is still crying.
  22. Purchase shoes, nearly kiss nice lady 3 again when she says they’re half price in the sale.
  23. Stand in store for 40 minutes trying to stop child ripping off shoes/sitting on the floor crying/looking at you like you’ve just thrown away all her teddies.
  24. Let child walk outside in shoes.
  25. Rejoice as crying finally stops.
  26. The next day, endure ten minutes of crying when attempting to put the shoes on.
  27. This reduces to five the following day.
  28. Just two minutes the next day.
  29. FINALLY child accepts shoes being put on very calmly.
  30. Over the next few days, child becomes very attached to shoes and keeps offering them to you in a bid for you to put them on her even when you’re not going out.
  31. Start sleeping soundly at night, relieved the saga is over, until…
  32. Two weeks later have a busy day which involves putting the shoes in child’s rucksack while child wears wellies as it’s wet and muddy outside.
  33. The following day, search entire house four times to locate one missing shoe.
  34. Search both cars.
  35. Return to every single place you visited over the weekend in a bid to track down lost shoe.
  36. No luck. Return to original Clark’s branch praying they have some left in stock.
  37. Success, one 4F pair of pink shoes, still in the sale.
  38. Resolve to check for both shoes approximately once every five minutes in future.
  39. Chalk this one up to a bad mistake.
  40. The next day, receive text from nana ‘just gone to put my boot on and Alexandra’s shoe is in it’.
  41. Realise rather than blaming yourself for not taking better care of your child’s shoes, you should have been pointing the finger of suspicion at her as she’s clearly made good use of the 30 SECONDS she was left unattended in the hallway with nana’s boots.

Harriet and Alexandra x

 

The N Word

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I’ve spoken on this blog in passing before about my desire to keep Alexandra with me for as long as possible. I’m in a hugely privileged position in that we haven’t needed to send her to nursery as yet because I’ve been working from home. Although with each passing month, it gets harder and harder to juggle her increasing needs/mobility and  decreasing amount of naps and I find myself doing less work, we’ve still kept her at home full time.

For the last few weeks, Dylan and I have been discussing the fact maybe she needs some outside stimulation, maybe being at home with me all the time (although obviously we do go out and do things!) isn’t enough, maybe it’s selfish to have her here when I can’t give her my undivided attention which is what she would get from nursery staff. There are lots of different factors to think about and clearly cost is one of them, it seems such a waste to have her in nursery for a morning and then spend half that morning working just to pay for her to be there. But then you can’t be all things to all men as they say, and perhaps trying to spread myself too thin is more crazy than paying strangers to look after my child while I return back to our home for the day?

I think some of it stems from spending so much time away from her in the first three months, almost like I feel I ‘owe’ our relationship and myself that time with her now. Maybe if we’d been together 24/7 in that early bonding time I would have been desperate to get away from her by now! (I mean I still am some afternoons when she’s refused to have a nap!) I hate the whole ‘I didn’t have a child for strangers to look after it’ because that’s just a terrible thing to say when so many families don’t have that choice and both parents need to work to keep a roof over their heads, but I guess the principle is that we both want to spend as much time with Alex as possible and I’m very fortunate that so far that’s meant me being at home 24/7.

Anyway we’ve loosely agreed that we may have a look at some nurseries with the possibility of her going a couple of mornings a week. I know the reality of dropping her there and coming back to an empty house will not be something I relish but maybe if we do go down that road then hopefully I’ll see benefits for Alex in terms of her development and socialisation that will outweigh my negative feelings about it all.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Early Terrible Twos

Pretending to be a nice girl!

Pretending to be a nice girl!

The tantrums have hit our house. They’ve been lingering under the surface for a while now but we can’t deny it any longer. We’ve developed from a little bit of whinging when things don’t go her way to full on, throwing herself to the ground, sobbing and whaling.

She’s 14 months, how did this happen already? I was all set to get to her ‘terrible twos’ birthday next August before I had to endure sympathetic looks off strangers as my usually golden girl screams in my face. I’d hoped we’d get somewhere near the ‘being able to reason with Alex’ phase before this all started. Clearly I was totally naïve. I’m now expecting a potential brief period of sweetness and light at some point before she goes to school followed by a long descent into the stroppy teenage years before she emerges at some point in 2035 as a nice grown up human being you can actually have a conversation with.

Don’t get me wrong, for most of the day she’s an absolute delight and I couldn’t ask for a better child but now when she gets tired it’s like dealing with a completely different child. Sometimes it’s because she’s hungry or because you’ve asked her not to do something she was intent on doing. Other times I can’t even figure out what she’s so worked up about.

I’m hoping the early onset tantrums means we’ll be done with them quicker but a large part of me thinks that’s entirely unrealistic and it’s more probable that they’re here to stay for quite a while.

Wish me luck!

Harriet and Alexandra x