I’m finding it difficult to start writing this morning. I feel like I should have something interesting to say, but then in the cold light of a white page the words look dull.

I thought about writing about Christmas as a time of excess, and my inability to control the number of M&S Christmas Jaffa Cakes I put in my mouth, but that seemed a little self-indulgent. (In terms of both the food and the topic). Who wants to know I’m a greedy piggy with no self-restraint? Nobody. View Post

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It’s nearly Christmas, (did you notice?), and so my doormat and inbox are being bombarded with charity campaigns, trying to guilt me into giving them cash.* See that pile of presents you’ve bought people? That makes you selfish – you should be buying goats instead you know.

I’ve also noticed a lot of corporate charity partnerships around at the moment, where large companies are clearly trying to win the philanthropic vote in a bid to beat the recession. I’m normally a bit cynical about fundraising campaign where big brands make donations to charities, as it feels like the company often do rather better out of it than the charity.

‘Buy a box of our cereal for £2.50 and we’ll give a whole penny to support orphans in a part of the world you’ve never heard of!’ – well intentioned (maybe), but it makes it hard to feel you’re really making a difference doesn’t it? View Post

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I received an email this week from a chap called Simon Wright. It began thus…

“Hi Jo,

Umm… I have no idea whether you deal with messages like this on a regular basis, but I have a blog based around the subject of choosing baby names, and I was wondering if you’d like to take it? I’d like it to have a home somewhere.”

Well no Simon, I can’t say I do deal with messages like this on a regular basis. I read the piece, and it actually wasn’t bad. I asked what the catch was, but apparently there wasn’t one. Curiouser and Curiouser.

So, always keen to save myself a bit of time and effort where possible, I decided to give it a home. You can’t leave anyone out in the cold at Christmas after all can you?

“There’s no way!” I exclaimed, “Absolutely no way I’d ever call my child Jeremy! I want him to open the batting for England with a crisp cover drive for four. Call him Jeremy and he’ll grow up to be a car salesman or investment banker.”

I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d arrived at discussing children’s names with my future mother-in-law, but there I was. It was happening. It wasn’t awkward, as my fiancée and I have had the ‘name chat’ on a number of occasions, but it was an eye opener. For a lady who named her kids Simon and Laura – two perfectly good names – she was coming up with some right stinkers, while poo pooing what Laura and I had agreed on.

It got me thinking – should couples discuss the names of future children, without even having placed dough in the oven? And, that being the case, should one learn not to discuss too much with the other half’s mum? It’s a ‘yes’ in both instances. View Post

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I’ve written before about my habit of teasing of my children, and whether or not it is cruel to nickname a child Roy, so when I came across this picture it made me laugh, and I wanted to show you.

I thought maybe I could take Belle here for her next birthday:

I reckon she’d love it. She loves it when I call her Roy.

Personally I think a good nickname is an integral part of family life, a sign of affection, and a way of establishing that unique, intimate connection that you share just within your family unit.* Roy isn’t convinced.

Do you have nicknames for your children? Do they love them or hate them?

*Brian, please note the use of an Oxford comma, just for you.

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“Seriously,” whispers Bee, looking at me sceptically, “are you really going to let Belle go out like that?”

I look at her, in her pink leggings, which are just that little bit too short, gold striped knitted dress, odd socks and red shoes. It looks alright to me.

I shrug my shoulders innocently, as though it’s out of my hands. I try to make out that I’m actively enabling Belle to use her clothing to express her personality, and that I don’t want to stifle her, but neither of us are convinced.

The truth is that when it comes to kids’ clothes, or clothes generally to be honest, I’m a bit rubbish. I have no real idea of what goes and what doesn’t, and don’t naturally carry off an outfit with effortless grace and elegance, as you can see from this picture of me as a child:

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