Baby or puppy?

Puppy pushing pram

I’m about to become a mother. And for those of you who know me, I do hope you weren’t eating when you read that or you have probably spat the food all over the floor.

Although I am nearly 50, I have decided that it is time to do it again. To become a mother. To care for something helpless. To have something love me unconditionally.

I know there will be sleepless nights. I know there may be problems with feeding. I will not look forward to the trying teenage years but I don’t care. I’m ready to do it again. In two weeks time, I will be the proud mother of a nine week old puppy!

This is not a new experience. I owned a beautiful mongrel twenty years ago who I often refer to as ‘my first baby’. She was an amazing dog, pet and member of our family and I trusted her implicitly. With me, she went through four changes of address, numerous jobs, infertility treatment and finally, the addition of twins to our family. None of this phased Bella. I was devastated when she died on Christmas Eve five years ago.

Beautiful Bella walking in wood
Beautiful Bella!

At that time, lots of my friends started to get dogs and although I missed the dog walks and being part of the ‘dog gang’, I couldn’t get another dog, not yet. It hurt too much. Even people bringing their dogs to my house upset me. When a family pet dies, some people get another one straight away. I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know if I ever would be. I’ve never been particularly maternal or broody but would coo over a puppy.

So why do I want a puppy now?

I have to blame the children. My life has definitely been easier without a dog. No worrying about house mess, leaving the dog for long periods and going on holiday at short notice. But my children have wanted a dog for the last few years. Even though Bella was a part of our family, they were too young to remember her. I grew up with dogs and I didn’t want my kids to miss out on that experience. And most importantly, I am ready for another puppy.

It seems I am not alone in thinking this. There are around 8.5 million dog owners in the UK according to the PMF association who carried out research in 2016. This equates to 24% of the pet owning population. The only pet more popular is the fish. This research also highlights the areas of the UK where you are more likely to have dog owners compared to other pets. In Northern Ireland it is a huge 44% whereas in London it is 9%. In 1980 the number of dog owners was around 4.8 million.  Globally, dogs are the most popular pet owned by nearly 33% of the pet owning population according to Petfood Industry.

Owning a dog has become more popular over the years but why?

Puppy was once a wolf

Dogs have a long history with humans. One popular theory is that wolves hung around our campsites, and over thousands of years those who were tamest got closer to us. After dogs entered human society, we started actively manipulating them, selecting them to be better hunters and guardians and companions.

Once dogs became domesticated, there were highs and lows. Romans buried their dogs in human cemeteries and talked about them like children. But in the Middle Ages, when the plague started going around, dogs become scapegoats. They were viewed as filthy animals.  Today, we are very much like the Romans again and talk about our canine friends as though they are family members.

So what are animals to us and what’s the appropriate relationship to them?

The answer to that depends on your history with dogs. Those who have been brought up on a farm or in the country will have seen their dogs used in a working capacity. Those in towns will have seen dogs being carried around in handbags, the ultimate accessory. I believe most dog owners today are somewhere in the middle. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Although I am adamant that my new puppy will stay on the floor when the family are sitting on the sofa, I have a sneaky feeling that this rule will change as she lies there looking at me with her big, brown eyes. After all, she will be a part of our family.

Puppy looking up with big brown eyes
A very cute puppy… but not ours.

So what happens next with the arrival of our puppy?

I am on a countdown to the arrival of our new family member and am amazed at how similar it is to becoming a parent again. You are overloaded with information about the best ways to get through the early nights, toilet training, the correct balanced diet and all the equipment you need in order to survive the first few months. This to me was exactly how I felt before having my twins. I remember feeling overwhelmed and worried that I hadn’t got a divider to put into my twins cot when I brought them back from the hospital! Oh no! What would I do? They would crash into each other and hurt each other, wake each other up or more importantly not be able to sleep!

On the first night, I realised that this was not an essential piece of equipment and my kids were just fine in the cot together. So I am going to treat puppyhood just like motherhood and remember the important things. Care and attention, food and love. What more could a puppy or a baby ask for?

Am I having a midlife crisis or is the whole of the UK?

Planet exploding having midlife crisis

Am I having a midlife crisis? As I approach the big 50 I find myself thinking more and more about my life. My body is different, I’m going through peri-menapause ( what is that all about!), my children are growing up and there is a lack of direction in my life. But I was also wondering about the UK. We are now no longer a part of Europe, have a general election coming up and have just endured another terrorist attack by a British born bomber. Is the UK in the middle of a midlife crisis too?

What does midlife crisis mean?

Midlife means the middle of one’s life. Crisis means ‘a decisive time’ or ‘time of difficulty or danger’. Midlife (according wikipedia) is the time from years 45–64, where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. This makes sense. Day-to-day stresses add up but it’s not really a crisis ( as in the second meaning) but more reflecting on what has gone before and what is to come. Although the modern idea of a particular kind of middle-age malaise goes back to Freud and Jung, the term “midlife crisis” was first used by Elliot Jaques in 1965, a Canadian psychoanalyst, who described how people entering middle age are confronted with the limitations of their life and their own mortality. Continue reading Am I having a midlife crisis or is the whole of the UK?

How has body image changed over the years?

How body image has changed over time

In my last post I talked about a positive body image and what we parents can do to help our children (and ourselves.) While researching this topic I was surprised to see how the way we view the perfect body shape has changed over the years.

If you lived during the 1950’s then you might have come across an advert like this.

 1950's advert for body image too skinny
1950’s advert

Or this

1950's advert shows different body image of today
How to put on weight!

Being thin was not considered a good body shape and there were people (men in white coats!) who could show you how to change it using pills. How different to today when you are more likely to see adverts and programmes about weight loss not weight gain. Continue reading How has body image changed over the years?

What is a positive body image and how important is it for our children today?

Positive body image used in Notting Hill
Notting Hill

What does body image mean?

I think I have quite a healthy body image. I’m not saying I would do a ‘Rhys Ifans’ (ie. posture in my pants for the cameras as he did in Notting Hill) but I do find myself saying ‘Not bad, not bad’ when catching a glimpse of my reflection.

Body image has nothing to do with how you look, but how you feel about the way you look and how you embrace and accept your own body.

Continue reading What is a positive body image and how important is it for our children today?

How do you chose your baby’s name?

Choosing a name

Your name is an important piece of information about you. Something you are given at birth and (usually) keep until you die. Your name can have a profound effect on you as you grow and can influence how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you. If you don’t like your name or are embarrassed, it could damage your self-esteem and affect your future success. Which is probably why most parents take such care when they choose a name. Or do they?

How do parents choose their baby’s name?

There are a lot of traditions and customs across the world which are used to help choose the baby’s name. Many years ago sons and daughters were often named after their fathers and grandfathers. This tradition still continues. Johny Depp is actually John Christopher Depp II and his son is John Christopher Depp III. Donald Trump named his son Donald Trump Jr and his son is named Donald Trump III. This naming can carry on in some families for a long time. Usher (the American singer songwriter) is actually Usher Raymond IV and he named his son Usher Raymond V.

Other traditions include naming babies after family members, saints, people from holy books and historical Greek and Roman stories. In Indian mythology there are 330 million gods and goddess names to choose from. Some countries use the horoscope and the map of the planets and stars at the time of birth of their child to choose a name. In Indonesia the order of your birth determines your name. For instance, if you are the first-born, your name will be Wayan or Putu and if you are the second, it will be Made or Radek. American red indians would observe the nature or events around their teepee when their child was born. Names included running water, sitting bull and little dear.

Sharing a name with a famous person

These traditions continue but the rise of the ‘celebrity’ and their baby name choices influence many more parents these days. On the ‘Humans of New York’ Facebook page, ordinary ‘not famous’ people tell stories of how they share their name with a famous celebrity. They include Donald Trump, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Victoria Beckham, Julia Roberts, Kate Middleton. Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney to name just a few. I’m reading ‘Charlotte Street’ by Danny Wallace (see Book Recommendations page) where the main character is Jason Priestley (remember Beverly Hills 90210). The story illustrates this point perfectly and although the humour adds to the read, I’m sure it wouldn’t feel quite so funny in real life.

These people talk about how annoying it is to share a famous name. You can’t be found on a website and for those with their own businesses they often have to change their name. It can be embarrassing when people meet you for the first time and repeat the same comments you have heard many times before, either singing the songs of their famous moniker or saying lines synonymous with a character. There is also the disappointment factor when the person hearing your famous name, meets you for the first time and realises you’re not them.

Some of the ‘sharing a famous name’ people spoke about how it can be an ice breaker and for the lucky Bill Clinton Gates who works in HR, it’s actually a big selling point for him and he attracts people because of his name.

Other ways of choosing a name

And then we get to the other ways of choosing a name. We may choose a name because it’s unique or it’s actually a mistake. My husband’s grandmother was called Estranna.  A very unusual name for a child born in Wales at the turn of the century until you hear how she got that name. Her father went to register the birth of his daughter but not before he had celebrated in the local public house. In his drunken state he mouthed the words which sounded like Estranna but should have been Esther Anna.

A British study undertaken in 2010, Bounty.com, asked 3000 parents about the names they had chosen for their children. 20% regretted the choice they made, either because it was unusual or because it was spelt differently and it made it hard for their child and others to spell. It is obvious from a few forums that I looked at recently that there are quite a lot of people who don’t like their name and I can’t say I blame them. This list included Merry Christmas, Mayo Naise, Macarena Diab, Jack Haas and God Gazarov. Unique names, yes, but at a price.

Yet it seems that a lot of parents still want their child to have a name different to everyone else. Trying to find that unique name, the name no-one else has is not easy and even when you think you have found it, the chances are so has someone else. My sister-in-law named her son, Bailey. Very unique eleven years ago but even she commented that as soon she had named him she heard of another parent who had named their child the same. I wonder if this true for all names?

As I researched this, I found a list of ‘celebrities’ that have recently given their children unusual names. We have all heard of Apple and North West but what about these.

  • Bear – Kate Winslet (actress)
  • Sailor – Liv Tyler (actress)
  • Cricket – Busy Philips (actress)
  • Fox – Mark Owen (singer)
  • Sparrow – Nicole Ritchie (daughter of Lionel)
  • Striker – Nicola McClean (glamour model)
  • Audio Science (I’m not joking!) – Shannyn Sossamon (actress)

So is it true that you can name your child something unique and no-one else will have thought of the same? Well, it seems even the celebrities can’t make this happen. Sam Worthington (actor) and Jamie Oliver (chef) both chose the same name for their sons. What was it? Rocket. Either the lettuce variety or the thing that goes into space. You decide. After all it’s only a name.

 

The madness of Christmas shopping!

Christmas is definitely upon us along with all the madness that surrounds this time of year. But what does madness look like?

hey-who-s-the-designer-here-before-after-design-talk-oyxnog-clipart

Yes, that looks like me pulling my hair out when Christmas is around the corner and we have presents to buy. And not just any presents. I’m talking about ‘the one’. You know ‘the one’. The one present that up until two days ago was not on anyone’s radar and there were plenty of them in a variety of stores. Then yesterday happened. All of sudden anyone who’s anyone now wants one and you can’t find one on any shop shelf or online.

‘What was this item?’ I hear you cry.

Continue reading The madness of Christmas shopping!