Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's in a name?

In our search of names we've scoured lists and books, and our imaginations to think of something perfect for our little boy or girl.  We're still not going to tell you any of our choices, especially after our first lesson in pregnancy - scroll down to the bit about Erin's mum.  But here is a bit of inspiration to our eventually answer.

Top ten baby names in UK in 2007:

1 Jack      
2 Thomas
3 Oliver
4 Joshua
5 Harry
6 Charlie
7 Daniel
8 William
9 James
10 Alfie

1 Grace
2 Ruby
3 Olivia
4 Emily
5 Jessica
6 Sophie
7 Chloe
8 Lily
9 Ella
10 Amilia

Boring. Or our friends and family have snagged them already.

And in the US:

1 Jacob 
2 Michael
3 Joshua
4 Ethan
5 Matthew
6 Daniel
7 Christopher 
8 Andrew
9 Anthony
10 William 

1 Emily
2 Emma
3 Madison
4 Isabella
5 Ava
6 Abigail
7 Olivia
8 Hannah
9 Sophia
10 Samantha

As bad.

If you want to check out when names have been popular, click on this. It's very entertaining. Hours, if not more than a century, of fun, in fact. 

Here's something else from the same author, she also wrote this.  Can you think of any more names that would be great if they weren't words already?  I have a theory - and this is not for the faint of heart - that some STIs and diseases would make great posh English names if they weren't STIs or diseases.  Try shouting Clamydia or Diarrhea in a British home counties accent. It works perfectly.  And they could be shortened to Clammy and Dee, or possibly Rea.

You can also find out the meaning of names to help with inspiration.  

I'm getting carried away, I was just about to write our top ten list of names.  But Erin says no. So I won't.

Made in China

Technically the baby wasn't made in China but like most goods these days it might as well contain the country's kite mark.

For those who don't know, Erin and I met in the middle kingdom and it has had quite an effect on our relationship and friendships.

One of these friendships we hold dear to us is with Joy (Zhang Jun) our Chinese language teacher in Cardiff.  Our lessons would usually turn from getting the correct stroke order of the characters to discussions about life (mainly in English), and since we left we've kept in touch as much as we can.  

When we called Joy to tell her that we're pregnant she said she would think of a Chinese name for the child.

She must have been excited about our news as when she got off the phone she put all her attention into the task.  When we visited her the other weekend she gave us a piece of paper with a few ideas on it.  She put our Chinese names together and came up with... Ai Jie. 

It means love and understanding. Erin's part is the love and mine the understanding.  I actually didn't know my name meant understanding, which doesn't bode well does it?  That said, we love it.  It's also gender neutral.  Pity we can't find a western name.

Erin throws a few out every now and again.  But we still haven't found a solid favourite.  So we might be using the Chinese one for the first few months.  Thank you, Chinese Godmother, Joy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I've been building up a bit of a reputation - mainly between Erin and I - for being able to spot the brand of a pushchair.  It may be sad but I know the difference between a Bugaboo Bee, Cameleon, and Gecko.


And why people would go for a Mamas and Papas Joolz,  Skate or Ziko Herbie.

Sometimes I think a Quinny Buzz 3 is a Bugaboo Bee. But more often than not I get it right.

So I apologise to the parents in London who have been stared at while you're rushing through Oxford Street, having lunch in Barkingside or lazing around on a Sunday in Battersea Park.  It was me trying to figure out what makes each brand unique. 

And Erin now stops me when I start banging on about prams and each ones merit if we're in company so I don't bore them half to death. 

But yesterday at our farmer's market breakfast we saw two - one ofter the other - Phil and Ted's Sports Buggies.  This is the first time I'd noticed them.  After this though, everyone seemed to have them, especially if they had two children.  The youngest was usually in the underneath section asleep.

Anyway, when we came back from our afternoon stroll we stopped off to visit Mamas and Papas and Erin joined me in the hunt for the right buggy.  She doesn't like my early frontrunner .  She thinks they are too big.  I did originally think it was a little heavy when I checked it out but still liked the look and feel of it - like many Americans do with SUVs, I suppose.  After she was prammed-out and we were looking at baby clothes we saw a mother pushing her newborn in a Bugaboo Bee. I'd dismissed these as a kind of Porsche of prams - looks good but overpriced. But up close it seemed all the compact-pushy-thing you'd want for urban living, with attachments for off-roading.  So if we spot one on ebay we may well get one.

Which brings me to yesterday evening when we got home. Erin hopped on the internet to see what prams were in cyberspace.  She saw a black Quinny which had hardly been used going for 400 pounds less than in the shops with three minutes to go on the countdown.  It took us a minute to decide if it would be good for us, making sure it could fit a car seat - Maxi Cosi do Quinnys'.  And a carry cot? Yes. So, we decided to go for it.  Unfortunately we entered the wrong Paypal account - you can't use an American one in the UK.  So we missed out but at least we know the strollers, prams and buggies which are on the streets and in the stores can be bought at a reasonable price if you shop around.

And I know I haven't mentioned Silver Cross.  Or Maclaren yet.  There are too many.

And don't get me started on the running ones.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A walk in the park

I attained my weekend blog goal today.  Erin's sister, Robyn, wanted me to take a photo so she can see Erin's pregnancy progress.

One of our friends, Sarah, stayed with us on Friday night and as we caught up on Saturday morning I noticed Erin across the room and saw, for the first time, signs of a spurt in growth of her bump.  My initial thoughts turned to how a little life was actually in there.  It took me a few moments to get back into the conversation Erin and Sarah had ploughed on ahead with.

In the afternoon we went to Hampstead Heath for a little stroll.  After a lovely romantic walk, slightly spoiled by taking the above photos, we found a spot to lie down and started people watching while munching on our picnic, which we'd bought at our local farmer's market. We wondered whether some couples were on a first date, hoped that others weren't; Watched bright young things flinging frisbees, playing badminton and walking their dogs;  and spotted lots of young couples with their babies and toddlers.  We are noticing that there are a lot more of these families out there than before we got pregnant.

Erin took a turn in relaxation by lying down with her head on my belly.  I was immediately struck with a slight pang of jealousy realising that I wouldn't be able to lie with my head on hers for a while. I said this but then had an idea to see if I could check out whether I could hear what was going on inside Erin.  

It was incredible.  I listened hoping I'd catch at least a quelch but then closed my eyes and was taken to another world. 

There was an initial gurgling movement then what seemed to be all sorts of bubbly activity. I was mumbling about my amazement to Erin only for her to giggle - stopping me hearing anything - and ask, 'What's it's first words then? Is it saying Mama or Dada?.'  I was undeterred. The image of the scan came to me, when the UV turned the gel into dramatic awe inspiring life. I was imagining what was going on with the baby, kicking and stretching or moving around to get comfortable as it was wondering why it's little home was being invaded by a head and ear shape.  My mind took me to the vision of life which had been created and was growing, literally underneath me.  

After this I turned to Erin and told her what I'd just experienced.  She wasn't as excited as I was. 'Hold on,' she said, 'turn over and let me do the same to you.'  Sure enough she described the same gurgling and bubbly sounds I'd experienced.  

Imagination is a wonderful thing.  Either that or I could be about to make history.  And I do look a little further gone. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Picture perfect...or not

Erin's sister, Robyn, has been bugging me to put a recent picture of Erin up.  Here's one from the wedding we were at last week.

Sorry it's got me in it too.  And doesn't show what people want to see from a pregnant woman. I promise to take more of Erin this weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Angry pregnant

Erin and I have just been chatting and she said: 'Hey blog this'.

As always I'm doing as I'm told. But maybe she didn't mean it.

Anyway, she's basically got a gripe as a pregnant woman.  And that gripe is that she's become public property.  People feel that they can say anything, absolutely anything, to her.  They look her up and down and tell her how she looks. Or they tell her she can or can't do things because of her condition (she hates that word). She also hates the fact that her belly has become the focus of conversation.  People forget that she used to be able to chat about all sorts before getting pregnant.  

The 3 main pregnancy cliches you're probably best avoiding when talking to Erin in the next 4.5 months are:
  • 'You should(n't) ... In your condition.'  The bit in the middle has ranged from biking to work to bringing a tray of drinks into a room for a meeting.
  • 'Oh, are you craving that?'  This is if she asks for anything to eat or drink - and it might be a cup of tea in the middle of the morning - it's automatically assumed she's craving.
  • 'Oh, you can eat that now because you're eating for two.'  Technically she's only supposed to eat an extra 300 calories a day. 
Yes,  Erin's a little bit Angry Pregnant today.

Ears and eyebrows

I've been thumbing through  a book we got when we were in the States. It's The Pregnancy Countdown Book by Susan Magee. 

Erin's now 17 weeks pregnant and here's what it says about the baby.

(And just to wind those up who are adamant the child will be a boy it's written as if she's a she.)

Spread your hand open wide.  Study the distance from the top of your thumb to the bottom of your palm.  At 17 weeks of pregnancy, this is the size of the baby - about 5 inches.  She weighs about 6 ounces.  The cartilage of the skeleton is hardening to bone.  Fat is just now forming under her skin.  The bones of her ears and the nerve endings from her brain are now, or will soon be, developed enough for her to hear your voice and heartbeat. So you can start saying 'I love you,' and maybe she'll hear and raise her eyebrows - because she's got those now, too.

From now when we play music the baby will apparently be able to hear. So lots of Mozart then? I doubt it. A few weeks ago I downloaded a load of Mozart for this stage of the pregnancy but have been thinking about it.  Why play classical music when it wouldn't hear it so much in the house when she - I'll go with the book for today's blog - won't be hearing it when she's born?  So what should we purposely play for her to listen to?

Send me your ideas. Most of you will know what she'll hear if I get my way.

So that's what's happening inside Erin at the moment.

On the outside she had her first I've got nothing to wear moment today.  Her clothes are getting tight and she's just about showing - Looking good might I had.  But for her, the use of those maternity trousers and jeans are fast approaching.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Boy or girl - part 2

Erin went on this last night to see whether our baby will be a boy or a girl. She's now, for now anyway, convinced it's going to be a boy.

Oh, and by the way, at the moment we have decided not to find out the sex of the baby until the birth. Erin made the decision in the back of the car as we were driving away from our niece, Sophie's birthday party. Everyone who asks if we're going to find out at the next scan seems to adamantly say 'good' when they hear we won't be - you need a surprise at the end, is their follow up. But when people asked and we thought we were going to find out, they then went on to talk about how we could then design the nursery, which in a one bedrrom flat is difficult, and buy lots of clothes, which we have anyway.

Boy or girl - part 1

I got into work this morning and Michelle, an administrator who works in the next office to me, asked how Erin was. When I told her all was well and she hadn't had any morning sickness at all she instantly turned to me and said 'it's going to be a boy'.

No hesitation. It's amazing how people know, or think they do, isn't it?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Helpful advice

Last week I read an article in a pregnancy magazine about how you should read up and ask experts, like doctors and midwives, about pregnancy rather than take what relatives and friends say, no matter what their experience is.

Still, that doesn't stop them.

We went to a lovely wedding this weekend at the utterly splendid setting of Doldowlod Hall near Llandrindod Wells. For American readers the hall is where you would think a typical English period drama is set and for the English, it's a bloody posh place.

Well, during the course of events we chatted with various people about Erin being pregnant. One of our friends has just had a baby - very cute with short blond hair and big blue eyes - and she said she had two words of advice: 'Primark and freecycle.com.'

We'll definitely bare both in mind.

Then we sat around talking to another friend who didn't realise Erin was pregnant until I mentioned that I'm not usually a gadget person but all the energy I do have for that type of boy-toy is being spent in search of the perfect stroller/pram at the moment. She looked at another friend who nodded at her and she said: 'Oh, Erin you're pregnant, I thought you were looking more buxom up top. I just thought you had had a boob job.'

Yep, she did say that.

But it was said in a rather charming Irish accent so got away with. Later, because of her, we ended up talking about male lactation and dressing up as bunnies. She gets away with a lot with that accent.

There wasn't too much more said about the pregnancy apart from someone who we've met once before, but don't know very well telling Erin that the more calm you are during the pregnancy the more calm the baby will be as a child. Erin looked at me and me at her. Then I had to go and DJ making sure there was only calm music being played rather than the death metal I'd planned.

Here are some photos of Adam and Racheal's day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rock, rattle and roll

NME.com are reporting that Bloc Party's bass player has quit the band for a bit. I love it that rock stars don't take paternity leave, they QUIT THE BAND in a headline grabbing way.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

London calling

Erin and I called our niece, Sophie, last night.  After quite a lot of baby talk, family talk and wedding talk I think Erin got a little home sick and wanted to touch base.  She also really wants to keep the close bond she gained with Sophie over the two weeks we were over there.  Matt, Liz and Sophie weren't in so we left a voicemail and sat down to watch some of series 4 of the American Office.  Before going to bed Erin checked email which said Liz had been trying to call us back as Sophie wanted to speak to us. We duly returned the call. 

That little girl's mind seems to have grown in one week as fast as she was developing when all the family were surrounding her with their affection and attention.  Her new words were Pillow and Princess. She didn't seem to put either in context but that didn't matter as Erin and I just repeated what she was saying. She also continued our little joke of when we would ask if she was sleepy, she would reply by shaking her head and shouting PARTY. I'm not sure how useful this is for her parents but it certainly makes Sophie, Erin and myself giggle. Without the context of bedtime, tiredness and a word of warning 5 minutes before going to bed we didn't know if she would react over the phone the way she had when we were at her house, but sure enough there was around 2 minutes of Sleepy from us in the UK and Party from her in the States. 

Simple Minds hey? And that's just Erin and I.  

Babies for Brangelina

Just in case anyone is bothered or hasn't heard, Brad and Angelina's twins have arrived.  They had a boy named Knox Leon and girl, Vivienne Marcheline, on Saturday July 12th.  Their daughter is named after Angelina's mother who died of cancer last year.

This follows Sunday Roast, sorry, Sunday Rose who came along on Monday July 7th for Nicole Kidman and her fella, Keith Urban.

Last night we saw Edith Bowman - music presenter/journo - on TV.  This is after the birth of her boy, Rudy, on June 1oth.  She looked like she'd never been pregnant.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


We showed Simon and Sarah what we bought from Target in the States tonight.

These included:

Baby wipes - boring but a lot cheaper over the pond
A portable baby changing mat
Spare changing cover
Butt paste - don't ask

Pus Erin's maternity wear. Please feel sorry for them. - Sarah, at least, looked interested.

And a breast pump.

Simon looked away from the TV for the first time in the evening.  And the response? 'That's bloody brilliant.  That's my favourite thing I've seen all day.'

How much?

Erin's mum went to garage sales for us before we went to the States.  We also went around a few places on the first saturday when we were over there too.  This is what we've brought back. All for £5. (Sorry if I don't get the right term for all of them, I'm only just getting used to all of this.)

5 Hats (1 deer stalker)
1 Green cardigan
1 Pair of Engineer Blue stripey Dungarees.
5 Full length baby suits  
4 Full length sleeping suits 
21 Play suits - 3-6 mths (1 with a caterpillar crawling over it with matching bib - cute)
10 Play Suits - 0-3 mths (1 which says it doesn't come with instructions, not the suit but the baby, which they don't.  Shame)
4 long legged elasticated suits 
2 Long sleeve shirts
1 Short sleeve shirt
1 Camouflage Hoodie (Just for David Cameron)
5 bibs (1 denim designer label, not sure why)
4 socks
4 Bath Towels
6 Blankets
1 Rattle

Most of these look absolutely brand new.  And again, it all cost a fiver.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

While we're on the topic of Sophie...

Here she is at Erin's youngest brother's wedding last weekend.  

It took place was on the Terrace of University of Wisconsin - Madison, overlooking Lake Mendota. With the sun glancing off the water the ceremony was beautiful, the ornate hall made for a perfect reception and Seth and Alissa didn't scrub up too badly either. 

This clip is of Sophie trying to get all the family lined up to watch her dance.

She didn't completely get her way but then neither did the family.

America's Got Talent.

Happy birthday

We went to our niece, Sophie's, birthday party a week last Saturday.

This is Sophie

This is Sophie with me

And this is Erin and Sophie. 

We took her to the park while the BBQ was being prepared.  After this we needed a lie down.  It was exhausting always keeping watch, and our enthusiasm and spirits high. 

Sophie didn't need a rest, she had more than enough energy to unwrap her presents.

With a little help from her cousins, Xavier and Sebastian.

The party was amazing but it was a baptism of fire for Erin and I (probably more me than Erin) not having been to a two year old's party since, well, when I was about two.  And seeing how natural all the adults seemed to be around the children was incredible. Everyone was on constant watch for what they would do next both in an 'on-guard' and 'in-awe' kind of way.  New words and experiences were popping up all over the place.

The last time we saw Sophie was when she was a timid 18 month old.  Now she's two and at this party she was a little timid around us, but not everyone else.  She knew names, bossed people around and and showed us that she has a growing personality. 

Sophie's in the middle of her two cousins, Sebastian is 3, and Xavier is 1.  It was an eye opener seeing the difference in overall growth and development of a 1, 2 and 3 year old. A year is a very long time in childhood.