Saturday, 25 April 2015

Baby Bettie's Nursery

The office's transformation into Baby Bettie's nursery is now complete!

The top drawer has all of the diapering stuff (disposables, cloth and wipes), toiletries, and socks, the middle drawer has first size (0-3 month) clothes and the bottom drawer has clothing in future sizes and other things we won't need for awhile (solid food freezer pots, pram shoes, etc.).

We found a nice foam wedge style changing mat at Mothercare and covered it with one of the muslin squares. I found a good classic Paddington illustration that coordinated well with the Peter Rabbit one, and used a cute frame from Boots.

The Hensvik is all set up now with the bedding & the matching wall art from Aunt Kelly & Great-Aunt Tissa

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Naming Baby Bettie

We've had a few favourite baby names in mind for a couple of years now, but it took awhile to decide on two for sure and to come up with the right middle names. Picking out names is fun, but very tricky--there's so much to think about, and I really think that people do grow into their names (i.e. I'm definitely a Molly, and Richard's definitely a Richard, not a "Ricky", etc.). You also want the names to work well together as a family--Molly and Richard are both a bit old fashioned, classic, Irish/British, so we wanted baby names that fit with our names.

Our main criteria was that the names should be:
-- Classic and timeless, nothing modern that would sound dated in a few years, like all of the baby boys named a variant of Aidan/Jayden/Brayden/Kaden, and all of the girls named Madeleine/Maddie/Maddy/Madison/Addison, etc.

--Easy to spell/pronounce (the poor kid is already going to struggle with Bettie, which people pronounce Beatty, Battie, etc.)

--The names should work in both English and French. We have so many relatives in France, and there's always a chance we could live there ourselves someday. Richard's always liked having a French middle name, and hasn't had too much trouble getting people to spell or pronounce Philippe. Some French names don't work as well in the UK, like Yves (a male name pronounced like the female English name Eve) and Jean (the equivalent of John, but spelled like an English female name).

We also each had family names that we wanted to use, as well as certain names that were definitely off the table for various reasons. Elizabeth, for example, is lovely, traditional and a family name, but Elizabeth Bettie runs the risk of being called Betty Bettie!

George Pierre Bettie

--For years, we knew we would use George, after Richard's grandad George. His full name was Samuel George, a family name that was used for several generations, but he always went by George and it's interesting to note that he didn't keep up the 'Samuel George' tradition--he named his own son David John, after a friend he knew in the war. When Will & Kate named Prince George, we were disappointed and we briefly considered not using George. We were worried the name would be come too popular, and he'd be one of a half-dozen little Georges in his primary school class. But it turns out that George was already a popular name before Will & Kate chose it--in 2012, the year before the Prince was born, it was ranked at #12 for baby boys in the UK. In 2013, it only moved up two more spots, to #10. He's going to be in school with lots of Olivers, Jacks and Harrys, the top 3 names last year, as well as Charlies and Williams like his cousins (#5 and #8). It's very classically British, as George is the patron saint of England, but George also sounds great in French--'Georges'. I'm slightly irritated by some of the negative Georges (George W. Bush, Boy George, George Michael), but there are also some great namesakes (George Harrison, George Bailey, George Washington, George Orwell, and more importantly, Richard's grandad). It's also technically a family name on my side, too, with my great-grandma Georgia (keeping that one in mind if we were to have 2 girls).

Is it wishful thinking to name our baby after "The Quiet One"?

--Pierre, like Philippe, is a recognizably French name that works well in Britain/America. It's easy to spell and pronounce, and is the French version of the classic, Biblical name Peter. We liked the flow of George Pierre Bettie and the inoffensive initials GPB. The French painter Seurat, known for developing pointillism, was named Georges-Pierre (I like to do this kind of research before definitely deciding on a name, haha!).

Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte 
(A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte), Georges-Pierre Seurat, 1884.

Eleanor Jane Bettie

--Just as Richard wanted to name a boy after his grandad, I wanted to name a girl after my grandma Lenore. As a kid, I disliked my middle name Lenore--it's unusual, and has very few cultural references (the garage owner's gold-digging wife in 'The Jerk', and a departed love in Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven'). In the UK, Lenor is a brand of fabric softener, so it's not much better over here! Over the years, though, I grew to appreciate it as a connection to my grandma. That said, I wouldn't want to use my own middle name for a daughter--using your own name for a child seems a bit narcissistic, whereas using a variant or a name with the same initial isn't as obvious. Eleanor is the British and French version of Lenore--the name was first given to Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Richard I's mother from Provence. Her mother Aenor named her Alienor, meaning "the other Aenor", like a 'junior'. It's common enough that people can spell and pronounce it, but not too popular--it was #57 in last year's UK rankings. It has some lovely namesakes, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Elinor Dashwood, and although Eleanor Rigby is a bit of a depressing reference, we love the Beatles, so it's ok, too.

First US Ambassador to the United Nations--she was so much more than just a first lady!

--It took us a long time to decide on Jane. It's a short middle name, like Marie or Anne, which works well with a longer name like Eleanor. I quite liked Eleanor Rose or Eleanor Grace, too, but Richard didn't like those. We both liked the sound of Eleanor Catherine Bettie, but weren't sure about using it because of Kelly and Jason's claim to the name Katherine Elaine, established in 1996 (I did give up my claim to the name Charlie when they wanted to use it, but that's only because it doesn't sound right with Bettie, whereas Katie Simmons still sounds adorable). We considered French middle names, but the only ones we really liked were Colette and Cosette, and I'm not sure how well they would go with Bettie--too many double-t's. One weekend, after visiting Richard's dad in the hospital about halfway through my pregnancy, I suggested Jane as the female version of his middle name John, and we both loved it. Eleanor Jane Bettie (EJB) has a nice flow to it, the names are easy to spell and pronounce, and I couldn't find any negative references online. Eleanor Jane is the name of the mayor's daughter in The Color Purple, but she's a good, kind person (among the only positive white characters in the book). Jane is classic, of course, and has a million famous namesakes, but my favourites are Jane Austen, Jane Goodall, Jane Bennet and Jane Eyre.
I did a school report on Jane Goodall when I was about 12, and I've admired her ever since.

Now that we've come up with two names (four names, technically) that we love, I totally understand why parents-to-be often want to keep their name choices a secret until the birth. The decision-making process has taken a lot of work and thought and emotion, and when you finally make your mind up, the last thing you want is somebody bringing up a negative connotation you didn't think of, a song (like 'Good Golly Miss Molly'...ugh), or a silly rhyming nickname that the kids at school might use. You don't want their reaction to be anything less than the enthusiasm that you feel for it, but that's unrealistic. We really don't like a lot of the most popular names at the moment, so it's likely that most people won't like the names that we picked out--and that's ok. The only thing that matters is that little George/Eleanor likes his/her name!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

32 Weeks Pregnant

(I don't know why the color came out so weird...bad lighting!)

Less than 2 months left to go now! This trimester is going so fast. Baby is supposed to be 3.8 lbs and 19 inches long, and as of my last midwife appointment, he/she is head down (I'm still getting kicked at the top/front of my belly, not in the ribs) . We're almost done with all of the finishing touches in the baby's room--I'll be posting more pics when it's all ready, probably over the weekend. We went shopping last weekend, and we're now at the point where we already have all of the essential bits & pieces. We got the 'going home from the hospital' outfit, but we're going to try not to buy any more clothes until baby arrives. Even though I'm glad we didn't find out the sex early, I've got to admit that I'm really excited to buy little suits/dresses for him/her when the time comes! 

Now that we're in the final weeks, I thought it would be fun to document where this pregnancy stands on various gender-predicting old wives' tales...

Chinese Gender Chart: Girl
Mayan Calendar: Girl
Pregnancy 'Glow': Boy
Side you prefer to rest on (left for boy and right for girl, but we're told to lie on the left??? I don't get it): Girl
Carrying high (girl) or low (boy): Girl
Carrying horizontally (girl) or out front (boy): Boy
Fetal Heart Rate (>140 Girl, <140 Boy): Boy (128-130)
Cravings (Sweet for Girl, Sour/Salty for Boy): Girl
Morning Sickness (yes for girl, no for boy): Boy (yet I've known of several women with HG who had boys...)

Remember, any of these guesses are right 50% of the time!

The parentcraft class was good and definitely worth attending, but we didn't learn all that much. It was reassuring, in that sense--it showed us that we're already pretty competent. There were some good tips about labour & the newborn stage (it's taught by one of the midwives who works in the delivery suite, so they've seen it all and really know their stuff). I'm so impressed by the way it's all done over here. When I talk with the midwives, I get the impression that they genuinely love their work and that they really do want the best possible outcomes for mothers & babies (not driven by profit, convenience, fear of litigation, etc.).

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

30 Weeks Pregnant

This week, Baby Bettie is supposed to be around 3 lbs and 16 in long. He/she has been giving me lots of kicks and jabs this week--nothing painful, it just surprises me a little every time. Richard's been able to feel a few good kicks, too, usually while we watch TV in the evenings. We had a great time working on the nursery this weekend and it feels good to have the room mostly ready, now that we're in the final trimester. The countdown is now in the single digits, too--9 weeks, 6 days to go!

We went to our first childbirth class last Wednesday (April Fool's Day--they didn't pull any pranks on us, despite the fact that a room full of gullible first-time-parents-to-be would be an ideal target). It was a talk about water birth, but there was also some interesting general information about labour and the maternity services at Leeds' two teaching hospitals, the Leeds General Infirmary and St. James's. The midwife giving the talk was lovely--very funny but definitely knew her stuff. Next Wednesday, we have a 3-hour 'parentcraft' session at the hospital that covers all of the various birth options and basic newborn care.

I've been feeling pretty good, overall, but I'm definitely noticing the increased size of the baby bump. I'm still able to put on socks & shoes, shave my legs, etc. but things like getting out of bed and getting off the couch are starting to get a little trickier. I'm just moving more slowly these days. It takes me a bit longer to find a comfortable sleeping position, too, though I know some women have full-on insomnia in the 3rd trimester so I'm thankful it's not that bad. I'm going to enjoy my full 8 hours/night for as long as I can before Baby Bettie arrives!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter! We've had a lovely, busy five-day weekend! Our main goal was to convert the office into Baby Bettie's nursery and integrate the office contents into the living room, but we made time for lovely walks, movies, Easter church service & a lovely gammon roast dinner!

I made this cake I found on Pinterest from a Southern cooking blog--it's called a "Preacher Cake", because it's made with cupboard ingredients that you have handy just in case the Preacher comes over for a visit. It has pineapple, coconut & pecans--I thought it might be sickly sweet but it really isn't. It came out pretty dense & would be a good coffee cake.

On Friday, it was cloudy and mucky--perfect for staying in and working on clearing out the office! Saturday was pretty overcast, too, and that was fine because we were in IKEA all morning and assembling furniture all afternoon. The weather really picked up on Easter Monday & Tuesday--we went out for a walk around Kirkstall Abbey and had tea & cake at the Gate House

Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened up in Leeds back in December and we finally went for dinner tonight. It was delicious! So lovely to have a proper burger! They have Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, too, which I find fascinating. I'd been wanting to go for awhile, but it's down at Cardigan Fields on the A65 so it's a bit awkward to get to (honestly, that's a good thing!). There's an American-style diner, Rosie's, on the same complex that we've been meaning to try--I've heard they have great milkshakes!

Baby's first Hemnes! It really does hold a lot--all of the baby clothes and cloth diapers we have so far are inside, as well as other little accoutrements (baby hairbrush & comb, nail clippers, thermometer, etc.), and there's still a lot of space.

Biscuit checking out the Moses Basket

This week the new mattress, sheets, liner and fabric arrived in the mail so this weekend I sewed the toile Moses Basket bedding. I hemmed it to fit the curved liner and sewed snaps on to attach the liner to the toile cover, so the cover can be removed & washed easily.

We got such an amazing deal on this Mamas & Papas rocking stand & Moses Basket at Poverty Aid UK, it meant we could get a good quality mattress & liner and still come in under budget!

We got this lovely picture frame at Ikea and we found a Peter Rabbit illustration that really suited it well (it's out of copyright, so you can save/edit/print any of Beatrix Potter's works from Project Gutenberg). While we were sorting out the baby stuff, I took all of the pacifiers out of their packaging, washed them and put them in a jar (for pretty, but also to keep them clean & all in one place)

The Algot, another lovely Ikea find--we're going to use this as a side table/storage unit next to the rocking chair. The top can have the reading lamp, books, and beverages (apparently breastfeeding moms are supposed to drink 8 oz of water/fluids every time they nurse?!), the top drawer has breast-feeding related things in it (disposable breast pads, creams yet to be purchased, etc.), the middle drawer has burp cloths, bibs, teethers and toys, and the bottom basket has blankets, swaddlers and muslins.