Wriggly Rascals – mum-to-mum support for bump to baby and beyond

A little while ago I came across a new website when the mum who runs it, Shona, tweeted me. It’s called Wriggly Rascals, and the idea is to get mums together to share advice on pregnancy and early parenting using quick surveys that get the facts about what real mums do. I liked this concept because I’m not into reading parenting books, but rather my ideas on how to parent my boys come from my own instincts and talking to other parents, whom I respect and trust, about what they have done. I find the idea of a parenting book too general, and I don’t believe that authors who are ultimately out to make big money by promoting one way of parenting are necessarily the best people to listen to. I think that listening to various other ‘real’ parents in real life daily situations is a better bet, and then we can make a decision having considered which is best out of various options for us.

I’ve answered several Wriggly Rascals surveys as topics have come up that I’m interested in or feel like we’ve had a lot of experience of. These have ranged from pregnancy to newborn to toddler topics. The surveys really do just take a few minutes each, so it’s perfectly possible to get one or two done in those pockets of time that us mums have to grab when we can. For each survey you answer, you get points, and over time you can build up points, and then they can be spent on things you might like for you and/or your kid(s) in the shop on the website. I used to do some of those boring online market research surveys that get you Amazon vouchers, but I gave up because they got so long, complicated and had technical hitches. Instead with Wriggly Rascals I know that what I write could help another mum rather than some random market research company.

Most parts of the website are completely accessible for free with no strings attached – you can ask questions, answer surveys and be part of the community. For a small fee of a few pounds a month you can subscribe and get a couple more bonuses including access to detailed rather than summary survey results and to the affiliate programme so you can earn money if your friends join. You can find the details of this here.

When Shona later asked me if I’d like to be one of their bloggers and contribute blog posts to the website, I was happy to agree, because I like writing about some of the topics that come up anyway, and I’d like to support this idea. My first post for this will be coming up in September, and the topic is related to breastfeeding (no surprise there!) If you like the sound of this idea too, and can spare some time to help other mums, why not head over to the website and take a look for yourself. There’s a badge over there on the sidebar —>

And finally… I also love the name of the website, because it describes my active boys very well (see the photo below for an example!) – they are definitely wriggly, and ‘rascals’ suggests mischievous but cute. I’m looking forward to passing on more tips from my experience of my own wriggly rascals, both in the surveys and through blogging.

Wriggly rascals

What’s in a name?

It occurred to me whilst thinking about writing about Joel’s dedication day (which I’ll post soon) that I’ve not written about how we chose the boys’ names. We didn’t know the sex of either of them before they were born, so we had a pair of boys names and a pair of girls names ready. The girls names we still haven’t told anyone, in case we decide to have a third (not that likely, but you never know) and she’s a girl; the girl’s middle name stayed the same between having Andrew and Joel, but the first name changed because I’d met a rather whingey whiny girl with the original name at a group we started going to when Andrew was a baby, and it put me off!

When Tom and I sat down together to talk about baby names, my general personal preference was for traditional and (not necessarily but probably because many traditional names are) Biblical; I didn’t like anything too modern because that could potentially become out-dated or of its time, whereas traditional names have stood the test of time already. But I was also aware that many of the traditional names are very popular at the moment, so if we chose one of them, the baby could end up being in a school class with several other children with the same name – in my year at secondary school there were 6 Matthews and 6 Helens, and I quite liked being the only Ruth.joeledit

At first I was also keen to try and choose a first name that we liked which cannot be shortened. I’m not quite sure why, but I like that my name is just Ruth, with no shortenings; occasionally close friends and family have been known to lengthen it to Ruthy, but generally it’s just Ruth. It soon became clear, however, that there weren’t many names which we both liked for other reasons that fulfilled this criterion, so it became less of a priority for me. Tom (who is really Thomas) wasn’t bothered anyway.

There were certain sounds that I wanted  to avoid. I don’t like alliteration, so I didn’t want anything beginning with a (hard) C or K as that would be the same sound as our surname. It also didn’t sound right for the name to end in this sound – for example, I like the name Luke, but try saying Luke Cumming and it doesn’t flow right at all, and for that reason, names which could be shortened to end in that sound, such as Michael > Mike, were also out.

There are no family names which we felt obliged to take (or not take!), but on my side of the family, there have been a line of boys with the middle name James – my brother, Dad and Grandad – and as I liked this name anyway and felt like it worked well as a middle name with various other first name possibilities, we decided on that for Andrew. We both have mostly boys in our extended family, and all 6 of my boy cousins have nice traditional names; I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded having a first cousin once removed with the same name as them, but we didn’t want it to be confusing, so that cut down our shortlist.

Although we broadly agreed on what kinds of names we both liked, when it came to specifics there were some which I liked but Tom was less keen on, and vice versa. For example, I like several boys names beginning with J (Joel, James, Joshua, Jacob, Joseph etc.), but the only ones that Tom was really keen on were Joel and James. So that also cut down our individual shortlists to make a joint shortlist.andrewedit

Once we had Andrew, we felt a little more restricted  when choosing Joel’s name than when we were choosing Andrew’s. We actually liked Edward, David and George, but decided that none of these could be first names because with Edward we’d be going for a Royal Family theme, and with either David or George we’d be going for a Patron Saints of the UK theme!

In the end, Andrew James and Joel David were our final decisions, which fulfil our criteria above, and, most importantly, we both liked and felt they sounded good together as a pair (Andrew and James, Joel and David, and of course Andrew and Joel). They are traditional but not very popular right now, as far as we can tell. Some people had said to us that we might change our minds when baby was born, because we might think that he/she didn’t look like the names we had chosen. Although I can see how this might happen, we didn’t feel this way at either birth, so the names were given to our boys within half an hour of being born.

Although we didn’t choose the names specifically for their meanings, we were interested in what each of them meant before giving them to our babies, just in case they seemed a bit odd to us! Here’s a list of the meanings of each name:

  • Andrew – from the Greek name Andreas, which was derived from Andreia meaning “manhood, valour/bravery”.
  • James – English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus, which was derived from Iakobos, the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya’aqov (Jacob) meaning  “holder of the heel” (Jacob was born holding his twin brother’s heel) or “supplanter”.
  • Joel – from the Hebrew name Yoel meaning “Yahweh is God”.
  • David – from the Hebrew name Dawid, which was probably derived from Hebrew dwd meaning “beloved”.

We were also aware of and interested in the roles of the men with these names in the Bible….

  • Andrew – he was one of Jesus’ disciples, brother of Peter, and fisherman before he decided to follow Jesus; he was the disciple who brought the little boy with five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus so that he could feed thousands of people with them.
  • James – there are a few men called James in the Bible; two were disciples of Jesus – one was the son of Zebedee and one was the son of Alphaeus – the former we know more about, he was brother of John and was one of the disciples who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (a miracle which involved Moses and Elijah appearing next to Jesus and talking with him); the latter we know little about other than he was one of the 12 disciples; another James, probably the half-brother of Jesus, wrote the New Testament book of James, a letter which teaches us about various aspects of being a Christian.
  • Joel – he wrote the Old Testament book of Joel, a prophecy (or foretelling of what was going to happen in the future) for God’s people and the coming of Jesus as the Saviour of the world.
  • David – he was a king of Israel, and Jesus was a descendent in his ancestral line; as a boy he fought and won against Goliath the Philistine giant, and as an adult he committed both adultery and murder but sought and received God’s forgiveness; he was also the writer of many of the Psalms, songs of praise and lament to God.

I hope that one day the boys will be interested to know about the meaning of their names and about Biblical characters with the same names. At least this blog post will now serve as a useful starting point for me to come back to when we talk about it. If you have a child or children, how did you go about choosing their name(s)? I think it’s such an important job that we do as parents because they have to live with our decisions for a long time. I hope our boys will think we did a good job!

Pregnancy diary: week 27 – “We’re having a baby”

Erm, yes, I know that, I hear you say. Isn’t that the point of these pregnancy diary posts? Yes indeed it is, and it’s through writing these that my blog was found by a TV production company, Firecracker Films, who are producing a documentary for BBC3 called “We’re having a baby”. The idea is that instead of having a film crew come and live with us, we will do the filming ourselves, using a home video camera – a handy flip cam the size of a smartphone, which, thanks to recent advances in everyday filming technology, makes pretty decent quality footage. We’ll send this to Firecracker Films, and they will edit it, along with all the other participants’ footage, into a 90-minute documentary. You can read more about why the BBC is getting into such user-generated documentaries here.

The description that I’ve been given of “We’re having a baby” (or WHAB for short) is as follows…

Young couples between roughly 16-30 years old, from across the UK, at various stages of pregnancy, will film their own remarkable journey. This will be their story, in their own words. Whilst we see a lot of pregnant young people on television, they’re all too often portrayed in a negative way, or condemned as victims of a hopeless predicament. Through this documentary, we want to challenge those stereotypes and show that even though young people may face challenges, they can also have real spirit, strength and determination. We hope this film will help increase understanding about what being a young parent really is and help raise awareness of the challenges and rewards.

Notice how often the word ‘young’ occurs there! I like it! Even at age 29 (just), and Tom at 28, we’re still classed as ‘young’ parents these days 🙂 I guess that’s true, given the stats that I talked about last week (I promised no more graphs this week, so I won’t go on about it!) It’s not just because of this flattery that we agreed to take part in the documentary. Since writing these pregnancy diary posts, I’ve come to really like the idea of documenting our pregnancy journey. It’s something I never thought about doing the first time, mainly because I didn’t blog then. I’m not sure how many others in the documentary are first-time or non-first-time parents, but I hope we can show that our pregnancy journey is positive for the four of us involved, as is the intention of the producers. Of course our journey will be different from first-time parents, because we already have some experience of what will happen, though I’m aware that two pregnancies, births, babies and toddlers are in no way guaranteed to be similar!

Bumpy in black! Feels like baby is getting bigger, and he/she is definitely active, so I get some quite interesting ripples across my tummy when he/she moves in certain ways! 🙂

So far it’s been fun recording little snippets of life on the flipcam (that we were loaned by Firecracker). It’s just a few minutes here and there, mainly filming everyday activities that we would normally do, describing what’s going on with us as a family as we prepare to welcome a fourth person into our lives. For example, we’ve filmed the three of us playing at the park, me breastfeeding Andrew, where baby will sleep (i.e with us for a few months before he/she is ready to go into a cot in the room where Andrew currently sleeps), and a weekly bump shot with me describing how I feel each week. We get guidance and suggestions from Firecracker about things that we might like to shoot, but ultimately it’s down to us to capture what we think best shows who we are and what we’re doing in this pregnancy.

They are interested to learn about our parenting ‘style’, which I see as something unique from family to family. Although there are several things that I do as a mum which might label me as doing a particular type of parenting (e.g. Attachment Parenting), I’m not a massive fan of such broad labels, precisely because I think parenting is a very personal thing which manifests itself slightly differently in every family. It’s interesting that by doing something like this filming, it’s made me think more about who we are and how we come across to others as parents and as a family. I’ve actually learned a lot about myself and how this comes across in my parenting since Andrew has been in our lives. I had some ideas about how I would mother him before he came along, but it’s only since being his mum that I’ve really figured out what kind of a mum I am and why I like it that way. For example, I never thought about extended breastfeeding in pregnancy – I thought I’d give it a go, get to six months if possible, and that was when you were supposed to wean the baby; but over time it just seemed like a carrying on was the most natural thing to do, being as we both get a lot out of it, and I learned from others that you don’t have to wean baby yourself at 6 months.

It’s great that we get to keep all the footage, so we’ll get this as a diary, as well as the finished programme with everyone else’s story in. I’m looking forward to doing more filming over the coming weeks, as well as writing these posts, to document our pregnancy journey. If I get round to it, I’ll post a few video snippets on here where relevant, so you get some idea of what I’ve been filming. Quite a short post (for me!) this week, but I’ll be back with more news next week 🙂