Best of the Blogosphere

home-office-336378_640The Internet is chock-full of information and entertainment and everything in between.  We like to share with you some of our favourite posts –sometimes whimsical, sometimes wonderful and always worth the second or so it takes to read.

From Beth-Anne

When my boys were infants I could sit and watch them sleep for hours.  Most of the time, I was marveling at the fact that I. Made. Them. When they were toddlers and would fall asleep, I would steal quick wistful glances at their sleeping pudgy faces but mostly, I prayed they wouldn’t wake up.  Now every night before I can go to sleep, I have to peek at them deep in slumber.  There is something so peaceful about watching them sleep.  On more than one occasion I have been brought to tears; overcome by emotion.  When this video of Theo (The Dog) and Beau (The Toddler) Star In A Naptime Love Story, I found it adorable (as did the hundreds of thousands of other people) but I also longed for those toddler days when I didn’t really appreciate their boundless energy and blissful sleep.

Do you know anyone who is pregnant?  Or has just recently had a baby?  No Airbrushing Allowed: This Is What a Mother’s Body Really Looks Like by photographer Jade Beall is mandatory viewing.  Similar to 4th Trimester Bodies photographed by Ashlee Wells Jackson that I told you about in the last Best of The Blogosphere, this collection of images is an intimate reveal of what a woman’s body is capable of and how beautiful it can be – even post-baby.

Very few people know this about me but I have strong views on baby names and this article by Drew Magary for GQ sums up all of my points quite nicely from Do Not Invent A Name to Don’t Abuse The Letter y.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know by now that I have a renewed interest in all things green and the environment.  While I am not about to ditch my deodorant or make my own shampoo, just yet, I have taken to subscribing to takepart an Eco blog.  Way back in January they featured this incredible story about recycled cans being morphed into furniture.  Check it out – you won’t believe it!

I am not a single parent, but I enjoyed reading 10 Things I Love About Single Parenting by Maria Mora.  Single parents: Did this one resonate with you?

From Nathalie

Snark.  Good snark.  Clever snark.  The internet is great for providing it.

I recently discovered a great blog called Manfeels Park, a wonderfully snarky mash-up of Jane Austen and feminism, in which Austen’s men try to mansplain gender politics.  Not to be missed!

And in a similar vein, check out this great series of annotations of painting of women listening to men.  Priceless.

So do you see what I mean

yeah i definitely understand 

because its kind of complicated

no I’m with you 

ill explain it again

Decidedly not snarky, but ever so cute: birthday cakes inspired by classic kids’ books.  Via Cake Wrecks, a great (usually snarky) place to go when your baking goes wrong.

Do you know of something that has to make the Best of The Blogosphere list?  Send it to us!  Our next list will be published in October.::

A reminder that voting is open for the best mom blog of 2014, for which we are thrilled to have been nominated.

Please head over to Toronto Mom Now and check out the other nominees.  You can vote for your favourite three.  Voting closes on Monday, July 14.


Relatives and Late Night Television


Despite having no evidence either way, while I was pregnant I somehow convinced myself that our first child was a girl.

Our first child was affectionately nicknamed “Bean” in utero. Having decided not to find out whether Bean was, as we put it, “A Lima, or a Garbanzo”, we worked hard to come up  with a short list of male and female names. Our criteria were simple: the name had to be compatible with Peter’s last name, and preferably, the name couldn’t be shortened in some unattractive or off-colour fashion. Whatever name we chose also needed to be common enough, but not so common that they’d be one of five in their kindergarten classroom. Whether we were hedging our bets, or just giving in to some mistaken belief that we thought we knew what was going on, we ended up with a list of girls’ names long enough to be wrapped around my expansive belly, and only two names for a boy.

The length of the girls’ list caused me some anxiety, for I was sure we were going to have to make a choice from it.  I take now the fact that we never did agree on a girl’s name as a sign that my body knew something that my brain refused to recognize.  Once we knew that Bean was, in fact, a Garbanzo, his name was obvious.

The name we chose is so perfect for him that I can barely believe there were ever other names on the list at any point. He was named for for my grandfather, who was 92 when Daniel was born and who passed short months later. His middle name is Peter father’s,  who passed away in 1995. Even though he was named for his ancestors, he now owns that name; it is him, in its entirety, and I can’t imagine having given him any other.


When it came time to find out whether I was carrying a boy or a girl the second time around, practicality (and my will) prevailed, and “Chip” showed himself to be all boy. This time, I was not surprised. But what to call him? We went back to our old list, now with one name on it, mulled it about, rolled it around, and put it back on the shelf. It was….all right. It would do. Maybe.  In jest, I threatened to make Chip pick his own name using a naming ritual that I’d read about in some attachment parenting book.  We debated names. We perused the baby name books. We were stuck.

At around the 29th week of pregnancy, I was admitted to hospital. The woman in the bed across from me was lovely – ebullient and generous. She also snored like an elephant with a head cold: long, sonorous, raspy inhalations and exhalations that made it impossible for me to sleep, and left me sobbing with exhaustion.

Desperate, I got a TV. For the next few nights, I stuffed the TV’s earplugs deeply into my ears, hoping to at least muffle her snores. Muffled they were, but not enough to actually allow me any decent restorative sleep. So, I passed the time with late night movies, including this one. I can barely remember now what the movie was about, but I was taken by the main character, and the character’s name stuck. Luckily, Peter liked the name, too, and the previous contender for a name was pushed aside in favour of the name Sebastian, with a middle name honouring my father. Like his brother, he now embodies that name, and I can’t imagine what we’d have called him had I not watched TV that night.


Both boys share a second middle name: my last name. This was not part of the original plan, but minutes after Daniel’s birth by forceps, Peter suggested that we also make my last name a middle name. I wasn’t in a position to argue.

A case for simple names

Betheny.  Becky.  Mary Beth.  Mary Anne.  Ruth Anne.

These are just a few of the names that I have repeatedly been called during my thirty years.  Who knew that two simple names hyphenated together, making one, could cause such confusion?

This name-angst has followed me since childhood.  My mother tells me that as a young girl a distant relative thought that my parents had two daughters: Beth and Anne.  They would look at my mom puzzled when she would arrive somewhere with just me in tow, being so bold as to ask, “I thought Beth and Anne were coming.”

Perhaps because my name is not that common, it can be perplexing to some.  Introducing myself to anyone hard of hearing, who has an accent or speaks English as a second language usually leaves them slightly embarrassed, and an exasperated me temporarily answering to a new name.

Or else the conversation usually goes something like this:

“Hi, I am Lauren.”

“Hi, Lauren.  I am Beth-Anne, nice to meet you.”


“No, Beth-Anne”

“Sorry, Beth-Anne?”

“Yes.  Beth-Anne.  Like Beth and Anne smooshed together.  Beth-Anne.”

“So, that has a hyphen?”


“Huh.  Sort of like Mary Beth.”

Not really.

My husband, after years of witnessing this exchange, is now quick to butt-in and just finishes the script for me.  It never ceases to amaze me that my two-syllable name can cause eyebrows to furrow and foreheads to crease.

Years ago, I met someone who had a tattoo that read: Hello, My Name Is Jim on his left breast.  Obnoxiously he made a show of peeling back his plaid flannel button-down shirt when he introduced himself.  After seeing, what I can only imagine as shock on my face, he quickly sidestepped to the next group of party guests to repeat his performance.

Just pointing to my inked chest could make my life easier but ultimately there are many reasons why this wouldn’t be a suitable solution least of which, after having three kids, my “name tag” would be down around my navel.

The only other regular sounding name that I have bared witness to causing such confused looks is a woman whose name is LN.   That’s right.  LN like Ellen.  After meeting her, explaining my hybrid name to strangers seems like a cakewalk.  At least my parents don’t come off as LSD dropping illiterates.

So, when the time came to name our boys the criteria was simple:  one-syllable first names to match their one-syllable last name.

Jack, Sam and Will.

May they never have to resort to name tattoos.

Names that Tether Our Selves to the World

I have always liked my name.  Nathalie is not a common name, nor is it unfamiliar to most people.  This is a balance that gives me a deep sense of rightness.  It just fits. 

I was named by my father after a song sung by Gilbert Becaud about a Russian tour guide

La place Rouge était vide
Devant moi marchait Nathalie
Il avait un joli nom, mon guide

La place Rouge était blanche
La neige faisait un tapis
Et je suivais par ce froid dimanche

I grew up hearing my name sung by both Becaud and my father.  Sunday mornings, the record player crooned my name.  My father liked to sing ahead of the song by a few bars, so I’d hear him sing it first.  I liked that, too. 

When Ted and I browsed the baby books, our criteria were similar.  We wanted names that were not unheard of, but also not common.  Our sons are named Griffin, Rowan and Gavin.  Their middle names honour our fathers and forefathers, but their first names are theirs alone. 

One of the criteria that also began to form itself as we chose the names was that we liked names that had concrete references: a thing outside of the name to which the name points.  The Griffin is a mythical beast, the Rowan a tree with thick bunches of red berries, and Gavin means “white hawk.”   

For Gavin, we claim most birds of prey as his avatar, white hawks being sometimes hard to come by.  When we see a hawk, white or not, we name it and our earthbound world is momentarily expanded.  And, of course, Gawain and the Green Knight is his incarnation on the page.

For Rowan, the streets of our city are filled with rowan trees which are just now beginning to fruit, and he can see and touch and find shade under a tree that bears his name.  In David Wiesner’s The Loathsome Dragon, the hero rescues his sister with the aid of a ship with a magic keel made of rowan wood.  It really does make the story more exciting when Rowan can partake of that magic. 

When we named Griffin, we did not know that Maurice Sendak had been to the Lillian H. Smith library in Toronto and had been inspired by the griffin guarding its doors.  His griffin has appeared in several of his books, books we read regularly in these parts, and we rejoice at the connection.  I have collected all of the griffin paraphernalia from the library, including book plates and the griffin brooch, and that, too, gives me a deep sense of happiness.  Our Griffin: my son, our library, and one of our favourite illustrators all rolled into one.  Griffin himself gets a thrill of recognition whenever he encounters a mention of the mythical beast, as he did just this evening when we were reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.  I was reading aloud, and he stopped me and asked how it was spelled, and when I said, g-r-i-f-f-i-n, he pumped his fist in celebration. 

What is it that he and I celebrate in seeing, hearing, and feeling our boys’ names in other contexts?  I think it is a joy at hearing something so deeply personal as a name in a context outside of ourselves, and in feeling ourselves tethered to the world.

The Name Game

Three of the four mothers are anxiously awaiting news from Carol- she is in her final days of pregnancy!

To honour the soon-to-be newest member of the 4mothers family, this week we will be posting all about names.  For some parents naming a baby can be stressful (read all about my angst here for an article that I wrote for the Globe and Mail, Facts and Arguments section almost one year ago), for others choosing the right name comes naturally.

After learning the gender of the baby most people immediately want to know the name.  Everyone is a critic and either secretly chastises the parents for their questionable taste or commends them on their chose of moniker.

Be sure to read Friday’s post by our hilarious guest blogger, Lori Dyan.  Lori, a mom of two, is a writer of all sorts including both children’s and contemporary women’s fiction.  Her uproariously funny blog aptly titled Lori Dyan is about her life as a parent and wife to the “Serb”.   Her recent post about her celebrity doppelganger is one of my favourites.  If you are looking for a pick-me up that is legal before noon, I would suggest checking out her blog.

As always we invite you to join in the discussion by leaving a comment.