Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Meme

Technically I haven't been tagged for this, but I enjoyed reading contributions from Menai and Kate so thought I'd barge on in!

The Christmas song I can even listen to in June is…
Gaudete, a 16th century Christmas Carol. There's a pretty good choral recording here, but I can't find a decent recording of the brass band arrangement by Kevin Norbury (which I really love).

Hot chocolate, egg nog or mulled wine?
Mulled wine as long as it doesn't have cloves in it. Hot chocolate is nice, especially with a slug of whisky, but not malted. Ovaltine is horrible. Never tried egg nog but it sounds disgusting.

When do you put your decorations up?
Late. We usually get to the weekend before and realise we're running out of time. This year we did it on the first weekend in December because we thought Baby Badger would get excited - if nothing else she enjoyed pinging the baubles!

What are you having for Christmas dinner?
I'm answering this in hindsight as a) I'm writing this after Christmas and b) I wouldn't have known as I wasn't doing the cooking (hurrah). We had turkey stuffed with a [insert bird name] stuffed with a [insert another bird name] with roast veg, honey glazed carrots, sprouts, port and cranberry sauce and bread sauce, followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies with brandy butter and brandy cream. I didn't, of course, eat the bread sauce because it's pointless - why add tasteless baby food to something already rather lovely?

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?
Playing carols with the local brass band on the village green on Christmas Eve whilst Father Christmas gives out presents to the children. We even have carols sheets for anyone that wants to sing along (we usually get a good 30-40 in varying states of tipsy-ness).

Have you ever gone carol singing?
I think I did once, a long time ago. More recently I've played carols as part of a brass group, with and without singers. The best one was playing sat on hay bales on a trailer being pulled round a local village by a Landrover - very amusing and as a bonus we were fed and watered on the way round!

When did you discover the truth about Santa?
I'm not sure. I think I must have blocked out the trauma.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Multi-coloured LED lights, hopefully in a subtle twinkling configuration but they seem to come on in random chase mode. Assorted shiny baubles. Decorations from various travels and memories: glow in the dark plastic snowflakes and icicles from my childhood; corndolly baubles from our honeymoon in Germany; enamelled baubles from a factory we visited in North Korea.

All I want for Christmas is…
Honestly? Some sleep, an opportunity to relax and a whole bunch of forgotten annual leave so that I don't have to go back to work until at least February. Given that the latter is pretty unlikely, I'll settle for two of these.

Image: Michal Marcol /

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Would you let your daughter have this?

Baby Badger was thoroughly spoiled this Christmas, not only in terms of attention being the other only little person, but also in terms of presents. Clothes & puzzles galore (as requested by us), duplo and balls (hours if not weeks and months of fun ahead), books (always welcome), and rather randomly a bubblegum-pink fake leather rocking armchair with matching footstool (huh?).

A few of the presents are not entirely appropriate. Some puzzles are for a slightly older child, but that's fine as we can bring them out when she's ready. A few of the toys don't fill us with confidence that the kite mark is entirely genuine (local market type stuff), but I'm guessing that a bit of poking and shaking from us will prove their toddler-resilience. There's one toy that is entirely inappropriate in my eyes...

Where do I start? The blow-up doll lips? The silver platform sandals (with matching knickers)? The tarty outfit? The sculptured full breasts under the wraparound top?

Am I being a prude? I don't think so. I honestly think that this kind of appearance should not be marketed to young girls, especially not when they are of too young an age to understand the assumptions and connotations that come bundled with it, rightly or wrongly.

What do you think?

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas, etc.

Last night (or technically the early hours of this morning, Boxing Day) I went all Bah Humbug on Twitter...

Is it wrong/unfestive to say I've not had an amazing day?

Christmas Eve: somehow my Mother and I were roped into running the church crib service (Nativity story with carols and puppets) even though neither of us wanted to. I consoled myself that at least it wasn't a proper church service (I'm a closet agnostic, bordering on atheist: To believe or not to believe) only to find that Mum had inserted a prayer and blessing for me to read out, making me feel like a hypocrite. Add to that the stress emanating from her during our morning preparations for the service (she tends to go into meltdown when she feels overloaded) and it was not the most relaxing start to my Christmas.

Once the crib service was over, all the family came back to the Badger residence for supper (sandwiches and easy finger food), which was much more relaxing, but my evening was neatly rounded off by Baby Badger chundering a mixture of booby milk, snot and food over my shoulder and chest. Nice!

Christmas Day: Father Badger's Mum moved down to the next village about 18 months ago, which is lovely: we get on well, respect each others' space, and Baby Badger gets to grow up knowing all her grandparents. It also means that we have stopped alternating Christmas Day between families and this year was our second Christmas bringing both families together for Christmas. For Father Badger's family it's much more relaxed than in times gone by (arguments and family feuds), but my parents don't seem to settle when out of their house at Christmas. Once again, my evening was rounded off by being coated in booby milk, snot and partially digested food. Merry Christmas Mummy!

That's when I tweeted.

Boxing Day: today has at least been more relaxed. A walk around the village followed by soup, baked ham and brownies with ice cream at my parents' house. And no vomit. Hurrah!

Image: Michal Marcol /

Sunday, 30 October 2011

More yoghurt m'duck!

Baby Badger has been astounding me for some time over just how much she understands. She has just started communicating clearly back to us, obviously for in the areas that she considers to be the most important, one of those areas being food (she is her father's daughter...).

I say "Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat?". She signs for food  (a hand tapping the corner of her mouth) and legs it into the kitchen! She finishes her plateful and a very definite "MORE" is uttered. This weekend's huge achievement revolves around our fall back food: plain Greek yoghurt. It's been a staple of her diet for a while, having been introduced by me after seeing just how much sugar was in the baby yoghurts and fromage frais. She loves it, and has always been excited at the mere mention. On Friday evening she signed for it: she made the Y sign. Yes, I know that's only the first half of the sign, but give her a break, she's only 16 months old...!

We've been doing animal sounds for a while: "clip clop" for horse, "moo" (cow), "baa" (interchangeable for sheep and goat). Father Badger swears blind that she can also do "sss" for a snake but I've not heard it yet. The most amusing one is "duck", but with a distinct northern accent. The jury is out as to which side of the Pennines the accent spring from as there is a grandparent from both (and I've got a distinct southern accent). Other words include "ball" and "door". It's all great fun!

Image: Master isolated images /

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Life Circle Week Three - Goal Setting

It's time for week three of Life Circle. If you don't know what it is, head over to The Five Fs Blog.

This week's task is to set myself goals, as many as I think I need, and not to worry about fine-tuning them. Part two is to decide how I feel about the list (too big/small, too easy/difficult) and how committed I feel about achieving them.

Here goes with the list...

  1. Lose at least half a pound in weight every week until I am a healthy weight.
  2. Do some exercise every day, whether it is running or walking around the block at lunchtime.
  3. Complete the Couch to 5k program.
  4. Medium term: slim down enough to fit my pre-pregnancy clothes.
  5. Long term: slim down further to get down to a size 14.
  6. Finish painting Baby Badger's cupboards.
  7. Clear the remaining boxes from the conservatory.
  8. Sort out the boxes in the study.
  9. Sort out the boxes in the spare room.
  10. Get stuff into the loft.
  11. Sort out all the paperwork that needs filing.
  12. Sort out Baby Badger's savings.
  13. Make sure I see my local friends every month.
  14. Make an effort to catch up with distant friends.
  15. Try to get a "date night" with Father Badger at least every other month.

There's a fair amount there revolving around sorting out, filing and de-cluttering, but that's not surprising. The list itself isn't that scary, but I know just how many boxes there are and I have to admit that it's a bit of a daunting task.

With regards the health and fitness goals, I do seem to have my head in the sand at the moment. It's a motivation thing, especially given the last few weeks where life in general hasn't been going well. I know exactly what I need to do, and have great intentions, but I do eat when emotional, and sometimes I look at the biscuit and say "Sod it, I'm having it anyway", and that's not great on a daily basis.

I do feel committed to the list, as I know all of these things, if achieved, will make me very happy, but will definitely need support to achieve it.

Life Circle

Saturday, 15 October 2011

It's time for some good luck

It's been a rough few weeks. I'm no longer wallowing in self pity like I was last week, but things have definitely been better.

As mentioned before, my employer is going through a redundancy exercise, and two weeks later and we're still none the wiser over who is at risk (and unlikely to find out for another couple of weeks). The uncertainty is hard to deal with and I've not been sleeping well because of it. I've also been sharing the various colds that Baby Badger has brought back from nursery.

Father Badger is going through some stressful times at work (not redundancy). He's also having a spell of bad luck health-wise: over the last three weeks he's had mumps, a series of nasty colds and has now hurt his achilles tendon, so he's not his usual cheerful self.

Add into the mix the daily trips we've been taking to the county hospital to see my grandmother - she had a fall and my parents are abroad, but thankfully she returned home to her sheltered accommodation yesterday - and you can see that it's been a pretty exhausting few weeks.

This wasn't, however, meant to be a whinge, particularly as I'm aware that even with all of this added together I'm still very lucky to be in the life I am in. What it has highlighted to me is just how much Father Badger and I support each other when we're going through a bad patch. It's been highlighted as we're unfortunate both to be a bit blue and we've been struggling to be that rock of stability for each other - I honestly think it's taken its toll in terms of our mood & outlook on life, and maybe even slowed down our recovery rate from the various sniffles.

It's time that luck turned around for us. We are going to beat the colds. Work will pick up for both of us, and I'm not going to worry about the redundancy unless it happens (although I may well be uploading my CV to a couple of sites, best to be prepared and all that). Positive thinking all the way.

Image: Cecelia /

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Life Circle Week Two - Life Plan

It's time for week two of Life Circle. If you don't know what it is, head over to The Five Fs Blog.

This week's task involves desribing my ideal life in five years' time, then  considering what I should be aiming for at various points along the way in order to achieve my ideal life. It's a tough one.

My ideal life in five years...

Father Badger and I will still be in our current home, but it will be in a much better state. The insurance company will have dealt with the subsidence and our kitchen will be crack-free. The rest of downstairs will be redecorated, eliminating the hideous colour scheme (including salmon pink coving) from the previous owners. Our conservatory will be box-free, as will the study and spare room upstairs. My home will be de-cluttered.

Baby Badger will be happy & healthy, most likely with a little brother or sister. (For some reason, whenever I think about this I visualise twins, but that's in no way an aspiration, and hopefully not a prophecy!)

Father Badger and I will also be happy and healthy. I will be a sensible weight and happily jogging two laps of the village (which is three miles) three times per week. We will also both be in jobs that we enjoy, earning enough to be comfortable yet not high pressured enough to impact on a work-life balance.

Where should I be in two year's time to achieve this?

I'm guessing I should be on maternity leave! A good portion of sorting out the house (decluttering of boxes and stored items) needs to be done, but the decorating is less important - I'm happy separate the cosmetic aspects for a later date. I need to be employed by a company with a good maternity policy - I don't believe I should bring a second child into a life where we cannot afford to support it; also I want to be able to take my full year to give it the best supported start in life possible.

And one year...?

Much the same as two years from now except pregnant rather than on leave. It sounds as though I'm obsessing about baby making but I'm not: if Baby badger is destined to be an only child then so be it; I am and I don't feel as though I suffered. I am, however, aware that I'm well into my thirties and that having a child is such a life-changing event that it really does need to be planned.

What about six months from now?

I need to be fit and healthy. I need to at least be down to pre-pregnancy weight, but ideally well below 12 stone. It's achievable if only I had some perseverance with regards eating and exercise.

I should make a start with the decluttering. We've been chipping away at it for years but barely a dent has been made and it's time to stop giving excuses.

Life Circle

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Falling apart

I feel as though my world is falling apart.

Last week my employer announced a restructure. If you have worked in the corporate world you'll recognise that word for what it is: redundancies. Various figures were given: X percent of July's headcount, not including employees in unit Y. What it boils down to is that probably one in five of us in the UK are going to lose our jobs. To make it worse, because of the overall number of people likely to be affected, the company legally have to follow a consultation process that means it could be several weeks (and in the extreme case, up to three months) before we find out who is at risk.

The common sense part of me looks at what they are doing and actually approves. They are a good solid company, been around for decades, and have used similar restructures a couple of times in the past in order to stay functional and profitable in uncertain financial times. I honestly think from a business point of view that they are doing the right thing (although obviously that will be no consolation if it turns out to be me).

The career-minded part of me is irritated but not overly worried. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I am good at what I do and I know I will find a new job (also, I am not proud and would take whatever work I could find). I'm irritated because I enjoy what I do and where I do it, and it's hugely convenient in terms of location (six miles from home) and childcare arrangements.

The emotional part of me (the part that seemed to appear at the birth of my daughter) is absolutely distraught. I cannot bear the thought of going back to the long hours and commuting of my previous job. I can't imagine arriving home just before (or worse, just after) her bedtime; becoming a stranger during the week; missing out on her childhood. I don't want to be too tired to be mum. Every time I think about it I want to cry, and I've been very close to tears at work (very uncharacteristic).

I find myself hoping that the consultation period passes quickly; that those involved come to a conclusion quickly so that we can all be put out of our misery. The waiting is killing me.

Image: worradmu /

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Where did Autumn go?

It's glorious weather, isn't it? An Indian summer! We should all take advantage of it while we can!

I hate this weather. I don't tan. I burn, come out in a rash and eventually get blisters. If I go out in this kind of weather I either have to cover up from head to toe (hot) or lather myself in sunblock (icky). Yes I am being grumpy, so there.

Weekends are precious free time and I'm wasting that time because I'm hot and lethargic, and I don't want to go out. Because it's late in the year, by the time it's a sensible temperature outside it'll be getting dark. Yes, I am moaning.

Don't tell me I'll miss it when the clouds and rain arrive. I'll stick on my waterproofs and go frolic in the cool fresh air.

Am I the only one that feels this way?!

Image: tungphoto /

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Life Circle Week One - Wheel of Life

Kate over at The Five Fs Blog has started what will hopefully be a life changing (or at least improving) experience: Life Circle. The idea is to identify areas of life that are lacking or could do with a boost and find ways of improving them through weekly tasks set by Kate. I have a feeling there will be self-discovery and other such group-hug type stuff. I'm not really a group-hug type of person, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway!

Week One's task: score my life out of ten for eight different areas, considering the score and the influences in my decision. Here goes!

Fun and Recreation
I rehearse with a brass band twice per week, with the occasional concert, so considering I'm a mum that's probably quite a good social life! I honestly don't have the time, energy or inclination to go out more often, so let's put this as an 8/10.

I always struggle to assess my career progression and aspirations. I am in a good job (I work in IT), a decent salary, and I enjoy what I do. I have managed to go back after my maternity leave and pick up pretty much where I left off, allowing for a little catch up on how the product has moved on during my year off (which has delighted my boss). I have no wish to become management, so career progression does not follow a clear path. 7/10

I am overweight. Actually, I'm officially obese as my BMI is almost 33. I guess that counts as a massive negative score. On the positive side, I am trying to do something about it: I wear a pedometer so have an awareness of how many (or few) steps I do each day; I'm tracking my calories using the My Fitness Pal app (and being honest about it); and I'm in week six of the Get Running Couch to 5k program (I ran 20 minutes non-stop on Friday and did interval sets on Sunday). I do, however, need to get a shift on and get myself down to a healthy weight and size. It's a focal point for me, so I'm going to score low to put emphasis on it. 3/10

Personal Development
Huh? I work full time and I have a toddler. I'm trying to keep afloat. No time to even decide what areas require development. 3/10

Friends & Family
My family are local and supportive. We get on well. Can't really find fault there. Since Baby Badger was born I have neglected my friends: when we meet everything is good, but we really don't see enough of each other. 7/10

I'm assuming this is my personal environment rather than a treehugger response? It's much better since we got a cleaner in June! There's a lot about our home that bugs me. Piles of stuff that hasn't been put away, mainly because we're not quite sure where it should go. Two rooms full of boxes that we haven't looked in for several years. A garden full of weeds. No time to deal with any of it. 1/10

I'm useless at this sort of stuff. I'm not in debt but I'm useless at saving. I rarely look at my accounts. I know I should do something about it but I honestly can't be bothered. 5/10

Romance/Significant Other
This one is easy. I'm a lucky girl. I have a husband who loves me and whom I love very much. We need to make more time for ourselves as a couple as opposed to the three of us as a family, but neither of us want to miss a moment of Baby Badger's childhood. It's a balancing act, and at the moment it's not far off. 9/10.

Life Circle

Updated: I've finally got around to drawing my wheel. It'd give one hell of a bumpy ride!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

And we're off!

My weekend starts on Thursday evening at the moment: I'm using up the annual leave I accumulated during maternity leave to have Fridays off until the end of November. My weekend may be a long one but it's been slightly challenging so far.

As per my usual Thursday, I left work, collected Baby Badger from nursery and went to collect Father Badger from the railway station. The guy that got into the car looked more or less like my husband, just a little... inflated. He'd called the surgery on the train and I took him straight to his appointment. I wrestled a tired and snotty Baby Badger in the waiting room, eventually getting her to fall asleep in my arm, boob in mouth. Note to self: trying to breastfeed discretely in a fitted blouse and tank top is impossible, but I got an approving smile from the lady opposite. The verdict from the doctor? Mumps.

The last two days have been spent looking after a very snotty and mainly grouchy toddler whilst staying out of Father Badger's way. I'm knackered.

Now to the point of this post... Yesterday afternoon I was watching Baby Badger practise crouching down and  standing up, pausing to hold a toy, then crawl across the room. I said to Father Badger: "she's going to be unstoppable when she finally walks". Two hours later she got up, walked across to her Dad, and spent the rest of the evening walking the length of the lounge! So... at least there's a plus point to Father Badger being off sick: he got to see her proper first independent steps!

Image: Sura Nualpradid /

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful: holiday, spiders and freedom

This week's Reasons to be Cheerful is guest hosted over at Mum Of All Trades, and it's snuggly autumnal read!

My first reason is that we've booked our skiing holiday for January! As I may have already mentioned, I'm so excited! I know that a lot of people look forward to their summer holiday: sand, sea, cocktails by the pool, all inclusive hotels. It's just not my cup of tea. I don't sunbathe because I turn into a lobster (and it's boring). I don't mind hot weather holidays, but I relax with a drink in the shade, usually with a good book, and explore when it's a little cooler. The holiday I always look forward to is on the slopes: skiing is hard work at times but such good fun!

My second reason is that I seem to have turned a corner regarding my fear of spiders. I've always freaked out when anything arachnoid larger than a penny runs my way, and recently it seemed that I was getting even more neurotic about them. It's been on my mind a lot recently: I really don't want to pass on this fear to Baby Badger. Last week my hand was forced and I caught a big black spider and put it out! Since then I somehow don't seem to have been quite so bothered by them, coping when one scuttles across the room, and even managed to shrug my shoulders and go to sleep when Father Badger told me one had run across the bedroom floor! I hope this is the start of my rehabilitation.

My third reason is that I have a day off next week on a childcare day. That means a whole day at home on my own, doing exactly what I want to do. Gardening. Sorting out some of the many things on my list around the house. Mundane jobs that have been waiting for months. A day of achieving. I can't wait!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

Why is it so hard to help?

I've been passionate about breastfeeding since Baby Badger arrived. My views have developed and, in some ways, mellowed since my first posts, but I do still passionately believe that all mums should be given the knowledge and support they need in order to make it a success. For that reason, I decided I would see if I could be of any help to the local breastfeeding support group.

I have no grand airs about this. I'm aware that to become a fully qualified lactation consultant (such as The Analytical Armadillo) takes years of training, but if there's some way in which I can help improve our breastfeeding rates, and also improve our culture's perception of breastfeeding, I'd really like to have that impact.

The support group helps the local community in several ways. It has someone present at the local Children's Centres at the lunchtime drop in session to help with any breastfeeding issues and queries. One member carries the on-call phone to help anyone having issues outside surgery and clinic hours, either via phone or by a home visit. A monthly antenatal class is run to introduce mums to be to the pros and cons of breastfeeding, potential problems and what a good latch might look like (the NHS midwives also run a similar monthly daytime session, again with a member of the group to assist). Lastly, the group also tries to raise awareness (asking local cafes to display breastfeeding welcome signs, etc.). I work full time so can't help with the Baby Cafe or the daytime antenatal session, and was clear about that when I joined the group, but hoped I could help with the rest.

The first obstacle I've hit is training. The group insist (as do the Children's Centres) that peer supporters have been through some sort of training. I'm all in favour of that - currently I can only advise from my own experience and what I've researched, and I've had no experience of common issues such as thrush and mastitis. I'm a smart cookie and consider myself as having good judgement, but I would be much more confident of giving appropriate advice after training. The issue is not that I don't want training but that I don't seem to be able to get it. The next local course is in January (bear in mind I've been participating in this group for four months already) over eight consecutive Mondays... 10-3! That would involve a full day of annual leave for each as it spans lunchtime, using up almost half of my annual entitlement.

It appears that being a working mum and a peer supporter is going to be quite a juggling act.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I'm stupidly proud of myself

Arachnophobia. A great film to the majority of you, spawn of nightmares to me.

When Father Badger and I started dating he used to rescue me from the giant black spiders in my flat, of which I seemed to get scores every autumn. The moment I spotted one I would drop the biggest pyrex bowl that owned over the top of it from as far away as I could get and still reach, then I would phone him to come and release it outside. My hero!

Ten years later he's still doing it, only I don't have to trap them under a bowl as he's close enough to catch them himself before they get away, and that's very important: once I've seen a spider I can't forget about it, and I'm not staying in a room where one is lurking (at least not with my feet on the floor).

I am desperate not to pass on my phobia to Baby Badger: I know it is irrational, there's no reason for her to be scared and also if she's scared, I'll have to rescue her from them! I've been very brave so far and managed not to squeal in front of her.

This morning I surpassed myself, and this is why I am so proud of myself: I caught this whopper in the kitchen, calmly and without a whimper, and put it out the front door. Get me...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lesson of the Day - what goes in must come out

I was let out for good behaviour yesterday, and spent the afternoon and evening away from home. Father Badger very kindly cooked us scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast for lunch. Predictably, Baby Badger wolfed down the beans, mulled over the toast and refused the egg, even managing to eject just the egg from her mouth when given a spoonful of beans and egg mixed together - definitely a talent!

When I returned home late last night, Father Badger regaled me with tales of playing with the bouncy ball, endless reading of board books and (because we share way too much information) copious hideous nappies. I laughed at his misfortune, in that caring way I have, and though no more of it.... until this morning.

Today's lesson: if you feed your toddler baked beans, what comes out of the other end will resemble mushy baked beans, right down to the slightly sweet smell (yuk). Also to be noted is that just because your toddler eats the entire bowl of baked beans in one go does not mean that they'll come out in one go.

Image: Paul /

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I'm so excited...

I'm very excited. Incredibly excited. We've just booked our skiing holiday for next January. I honestly don't know how I'm going to cope waiting for the next four months. I may implode.

We didn't go last season as Baby Badger was only six months old. There was no way she could come with us, nor could we leave her with anyone. Father Badger very kindly offered to let me go, but I didn't fancy building a stash of expressed milk to last a whole week, nor did I fancy the idea of pumping on the edge of the piste every three hours!

As you may know, we did go the year before, our sixth season, but I was 16 weeks pregnant. We went with my midwife's blessing and the instruction to ski within my ability (black runs definitely out of the question), no moguls (for those of you who don't ski they're the bumps that are "fun" to ski over, although I never have got the hang of them), and definitely no ski park ( that's the bit with the ramps and jumps that I normally fall over on!).

So... we're going next January! (Excuse me while I do a little dance of joy around the living room.) Father Badger, Baby Badger and myself along with my sister in law and three friends. Father Badger and I are going to share a lift pass so we each get to ski half of the time while the other is on parent duty, and sister in law has offered to do some of the looking after.

Excited as I am, there's a little part of me that's worrying that I'm being selfish: Baby Badger doesn't want to go on a skiing trip, and she's definitely not going to enjoy the journey (waiting at the airport, short haul flight then coach transfer). I'm hoping she'll enjoy the experience of being somewhere so snowy, and a chance to experience something new - she really has proved herself to be very versatile so far.

What do you think? When did you first take your little one away on a proper holiday? How did they fare on the journey? Have you any tips for entertaining them; anything we should not go without; anything not worth the luggage allowance?

I've added this to the show off showcase, not because I think the post is a corker but because I really could do with some advice for next January!

ShowOff ShowCase

Image: Suat Eman /

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Our holiday in Cornwall

We've just had a wonderful week. Last Saturday we went to a wedding: a childhood friend marrying in my home village. Our parents pulled together and gave us 12 hours child-free so we could enjoy the day without worrying about feeding, entertainment or bedtime. We had a wonderful day but demonstrated that we are not the party animals we used to be: stopped drinking wine soon after dinner, and left at 11pm to come home and sleep! The following day we caught up with a friend who is due her second baby very soon, then went on to a birthday lunch, this time with Baby Badger in tow.

Monday morning was spent packing and that afternoon we were off... to Glastonbury. Not the festival (obviously we missed that by several weeks), but to the town itself. After one night in a randomly selected B&B, we walked up the tor after breakfast, something I had never done before. The hill was hard work but the view at the top was amazing, and the scattering of incense waving, didgeridoo-playing hippies were very amusing!

From there we went on to The Chapel Guest House just outside St Austell, where we spent four nights. I honestly can't recommend them enough (and no, I'm not being paid in any way to say this!) - the room was lovely, the welcome warm, and they were great with Baby Badger. Other than some great reviews online, we chose them because they were a mere three miles from The Eden Project and a good base to explore Cornwall.

We spent our first day at The Eden Project, somewhere we've been meaning to visit for years. The two undercover biomes, the rainforest and the Mediterranean, were very interesting. The rainforest was, unsurprisingly, rather warm and humid, but I found the Mediterranean one the best: lots of examples of plants and fruit & veg that we could be growing here. What surprised me is that I actually found the open air areas the most interesting - the choices of plants and the layouts are so carefully thought out. Baby Badger found the whole experience fascinating; so much so that she went until early afternoon without a nap, and finally fell asleep to the reverberations of a drumming troupe! Best of all, Father Badger paid for me to have a 15 minute back and head massage before leaving!

Day two was spent at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is part formal gardens, part jungle and part woodland. I really wish we lived more locally - I honestly could see myself getting an annual pass and wondering round on a weekend looking for the sunny spot to sit and read.

Our final day was spent exploring Padstow (incredibly busy and disappointingly full of cars trying to squeeze down narrow lanes). After lunch we headed off along the coast and spent a couple of hours late afternoon at Mawgen Porth beach - Baby Badger's first time at the beach. She loved it. We had her in a SPF suit and cream and she spent almost the entire time putting sand in the bucket, taking sand out of the bucket, putting sand in the bucket, taking... you get the drift.

Not only has she been drinking in the experiences of new places and things to do, she's also found a new enthusiasm for food, trying pretty much anything we could find, and did us proud at every eatery, even a very posh restaurant. She would recommend the belly pork by the way...!

Image: Simon Howden /

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ten Things You Don't Know About Me

I've been a bit quiet recently and there's nothing better than a meme to get the words flowing. Jayne over at Mum's the Word tagged me to write ten things you don't know about me...

First of all, I'm going to have to say in my defence that I've done something similar before so I'm struggling for another ten! At least last time it was only seven things, so I haven't used too many up! Let's see if I can think of another ten...

1. I have a purple belt in karate (Shotokan, in case you're interested). I started because I wanted to improve my fitness without mind-numbing gym sessions, but really enjoyed it, even though it was a full contact club - there's nothing quite like knowing that incoming punch is designed to hit its target to make you defend properly! I've not trained in a few years now, but maybe one day I'll get back into it again.

2. My favourite film since a child is The Jungle Book (the original one with Beatles-style vultures). When I was very young I had a bootleg cassette tape of the film (that's right - just the sound!), I'm guessing done by someone with a tape recorder in the cinema. The result is that I know all of the lyrics and pretty much all the dialogue off by heart.

3. I was born in an RAF hospital in Germany. My parents and I came to the UK to live before I was a year old and I gave up my dual nationality when I got my own passport in my teens.

4. I have two degrees. The first is in Music from Durham; the second is in Maths & Computing with The Open University.

5. I like real ale. Beer should be room temp and not fizzy. It's just the way it is. I also like whisky. I'm so feminine...

6. I hate beach holidays. I burn in the British sun, so why on earth I'd want to pay to go somewhere else and fry I do not know?! That's not to say I don't like holiday in warm climates, but I generally like to sit in the shade with a drink and a good book and look out at the sun.

7. I love skiing holidays. I'm not amazing, and put me at the top of a black run and I'd rather be airlifted out than attempt it, but I do at least feel as though I ski with a degree of style rather than simply making it down in one piece now. I didn't go this year because Baby Badger was way too young to leave (not to mention the two hourly feeds), and last year I went but had to limit myself because of being pregnant, so I'm dying to get back on the slope. The jury is currently out as to whether I get to go next year.

8. I love a fancy dress party. My favourite costumes so far have included Lara Croft, Rogue from X Men, and various Halloween characters.

9. I was a Goth in my teenage years and I still relish any opportunity to don black clothing and plenty of silver jewellery and studs. I love my New Rock boots, even if they do weigh a ton.

10.My eyesight is terrible. I wear either glasses or contact lenses all the time, and I honestly think that without them I would be run over the first time I left the pavement (after having fallen of the kerb, which I hadn't seen).

And now it's my turn to tag: @MenaiN, @And1MoreMeans5 and @NinjaMomBlog.

Image: Suat Eman /

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful: crawling, ivy and doors

I've been sitting at my laptop for going on an hour this evening, trying to think of what to write. Truth be known, I've been feeling a bit bit depressed about the state of the world recently. I've been trying to avoid writing about it, finding something fun and light-hearted, but I simply need to say this.

First of all we have the natural disaster, the supposed Act of God that is the drought and famine in East Africa (and therein lies one of the many reasons that I don't believe any more). I saw a tweet that suggested that mothers were having to choose to let their weakest child die in order for the strongest to live. Before I was a mother that would have sounded awful; an impossible choice to make. Now that I have a daughter my innermost being screams out for them. How can the developed world strain under the weight of so much wastage while the forgotten millions perish. If I think about it I want to cry, so I don't think about it; I've donated to the DEC and that will have to do for now, but perhaps that's the root cause of the problem: it's too horrific for most people to think of and we choose to carry on in our happy existences.

Next we have the man-made disasters: the senseless bombing and shootings in Norway; and now I see that the Syrian authorities have killed 130 of their own people. Lastly we have the ignorantly damaging... one example is where The Analytical Armadillo recently highlighted the potentially fatal advice on sleeping arrangements for baby. Ridiculously high numbers of blankets to make them sleep through the night, as if that's the most important thing?! It makes me so sad to think that babies could be suffering or even dying due to bad advice.

Now... I do realise this post should be about reasons to be cheerful. I'm coming on to that! All of the badness in the world highlights to me that I really should be grateful for what I have, and I am truly grateful: I have a lovely husband, a comfortable life and a daughter I really would give everything for. And that's when I remembered Mich's reasons to be cheerful and realised that's exactly what I need today!

1. Baby Badger is crawling! She worked it out last month at a little over a year old, presumably because when she started at nursery she saw lots of other crawlers. There's just no stopping her now - it's given her the ability to get to the furniture she has been surfing along for months. We're going to have to be on our toes, but it's wonderful to watch!

2. Ivy. Father Badger attacked trimmed the ivy on the back wall today. I hate the ivy: it cuts out the light, it's probably doing bad things to the wall and (probably the main reason) it's full of spiders. This makes me cheerful for two reasons: I can hope that he trimmed so hard that it dies (!); and Baby Badger spent the afternoon outside in the play pen, under a tree, happily playing and chatting away.

3. I've finished the wardrobe doors. More accurately, I've finished the base colour. I've been planning these doors since I was pregnant and, almost 18 months later, I'm close to finishing them! I'll leave the details for another time, but suffice to say I'm proud of them.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Flying Solo

I've been worrying about this weekend for a little while. It's my first go at flying solo overnight. Two nights and three days, to be precise. Father Badger is at the other end of the country for a long weekend, which leaves me in charge overnight for the first time with Baby Badger since those early few days in hospital, and I had NHS staff to help back then! I had visions of a baby that didn't want to sleep, of screaming fits (baby), of gradual meltdown (me)...

So far, it seems, I had nothing to worry about. Yesterday we did Sainsbury shopping in the morning (trolley rides are so exciting) followed by a chat and a cuppa with some of my NCT friends and their babies. Dinner was home made pizza with olives on it: Baby Badger ate all the olives, demanding to steal them off my slices! Today started with a nice walk over the hills with baby on my back in my Ergo followed by lunch with my parents. Baby Badger then went to my mother in law for the afternoon whilst I went to the theatre daahhrling where she had a second lunch! I think she must have worn herself out playing because she was ready for bed soon after we got home!

Assuming we get through tonight unscathed, I've just got tomorrow to get through and I'm looking forward to it. I feel like supermum.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

I think I need to get a life

Since Baby Badger arrived I've had an intimate relationship with our washing machine. It's an old friend, having given us almost twelve years of service (albeit with four new pumps). I'd been in denial for a while: I thought maybe its spin cycle was getting tired in old age, but no... Last weekend I admitted to myself that its pump had gone again and the washing was actually sitting in water that hadn't pumped away after accumulated cycles. Eeuwww.

After a serious conversation with Father Badger, we decided that euthanasia was the only option and ordered a new machine to be delivered a couple of days later. In a fit of inspiration after moving old faithful onto the patio, I decided this would be the time to lift the manky old torn lino in the utility room and put down some brand spanking new vinyl tiles. Off I went to the DIY store, bought the tiles, came back and pulled up the lino, and this is what I was faced with...

Musty, damp concrete that vinyl tiles will not stick to in a month of Sundays. That left me feeling slightly less inspired.

So why do I need to get a life? Firstly that the thought of laying vinyl tiles really made me happy. Really. Secondly that faced with said concrete I spent several hours on the internet looking for ways to enable me to lay my lovely new tiles before the replacement machine arrived the following morning. (I failed to devise a plan. In case you were interested...) Thirdly that I am in love with the new machine. It's programmmable (I'm in IT and that really floats my boat), it's quiet and it has a spin cycle to die for. Ahem.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Do toddlers and restaurants mix?

Apparently there's been a debate on Radio 4 recently over children in restaurants - whether they are welcome and what should be expected of them and their parents. The debate was sparked by a recent news article where a man had a wine bottle smashed over his head after asking a couple to quieten their baby (which had been crying for some time).

There's part of me that can understand how a parent might snap in those circumstances - baby crying continuously, you want some semblance of a social life (I've been there) - but I certainly don't condone the action taken. I also understand the victim's point of view: if you go out for a quiet meal, shrieking from a six month old is probably not your planned entertainment!

Today we went out for lunch for my sister in law's birthday. We went to a very nice local restaurant on the Thames (The Beetle & Wedge at Moulsford), chosen partly because of the lovely food and great reputation but also because their website said children are always welcome. The provided not only a nice clean wooden highchair with safety harness but also some chunky brightly coloured plastic cutlery, which Baby Badger loved playing with! When our starters arrived they brought some french bread crusts for her to chew on, and gave a tickle or funny face each time they passed our table. We really couldn't have asked for more (and as a bonus our food was delicious!).

Baby Badger did us proud. She was smiley, had a go at pretty much any food we passed her way: olives, vegetable crisps, ratatouille, beans, carrots and duck. She also went crazy for the chocolate pot (gorgeous, rich chocolate ganache with chantilly cream and chocolate icecream). She managed a whole three hours without a complaint!

Which brings me back to the debate... What would we have done if she hadn't been happy? Without a doubt we would have tried to placate her with food or a cuddle. If that didn't work, we would go for distraction: a walk round or a toy, perhaps a bit of mummy milk (because I have no issue with feeding discreetly in a restaurant). If that didn't work, we would remove her and one of us from the restaurant and not return until she was happy to be there. It's the only polite thing to do.

Do you take your little ones out for meals? How do you handle it when they're just not up for the experience?

Image: vitasamb2001 /

Monday, 13 June 2011

Time on your side that will never end

I was driving back from rehearsal tonight and found myself singing along to the radio... Oh my God I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home"... I identified that I knew the tune and words because of Lily Allen, but it certainly wasn't her singing. I mentally listed all the bands I thought it could be and guessed The Kaiser Chiefs which, as I've discovered via the power of Google, was correct.

This isn't about a pat on the back for my musical knowledge, surprised as I am at getting it right. It set me thinking about how out of date I am with music today, and how old that makes me feel! I have a vague feeling that something from X Factor or Pop Idol got the last Christmas number one, but I couldn't swear by it or even name the contenders. I have no idea what is in the charts at the moment. The last couple of gigs I went to were Morcheeba and Sisters of Mercy (yes, I know that's a bit of a contrast...). What happened to me...?!

I guess it's time to find something other than Absolute 80s radio to listen to. Any suggestions on a crash course in modern music?!

Image: anankkml /

Friday, 10 June 2011

I survived!

I did it. I survived my first week back at work, and so did my daughter.

Actually being at work wasn't that bad at all, in fact it almost felt as though I hadn't been away for the last year. My boss chucked me straight in at the deep end and I remembered a surprising amount! The only downside is the half hour of my 45 minute lunch break that I spend getting to the medical room to express milk, but that's my choice so I can't complain.

Baby Badger's days were variable, but on balance fine for the first week.

Monday saw her with my mother in law, happy and smiling to be left with grandma. She had a good day, plenty of playing, an outing in the pushchair, and a couple of naps. Perfect. Not a huge amount of food, predictably, and almost no interest in the milk I left. Not ideal, given that she's not putting on weight, but at least she was happy.

Tuesday was her first full day at nursery. She cried when I left. I was strong, I gave her a cuddle and a kiss and handed her over, saying I would be back later, and left. Then I cried in the reception like a big girl and went to work. I managed to hold it together and luckily the nursery called soon after to tell me she had settled down nicely. She had another good day, happily playing with a couple of naps. Again not much food and refused all the milk. Perhaps a pattern is emerging here...?

Wednesday is my parents' day. Again, she was very happy to be dropped off, and had a happy day ransacking their living room, shredding magazines and posting them through the railings of the fireguard *chuckle*. They managed to get her to eat cheese, hummus and apple - yey! They didn't even offer her the milk as "she didn't ask for it and she'd had some lunch". Not impressed. Seriously. I bit my tongue and didn't say anything, but next week I will ask them to make sure she's offered it a few times.

Thursday, and we're back to nursery again. She cried as soon as we got there, but I was strong, played for a minute and then handed her over. This time I managed not to blub like a girl, and peered through the window - she was happy playing within a few minutes - hallelujah! I left just one bottle of milk this time, saying if that they should call if they need another as I'd be pumping at lunchtime, but I didn't hold out much hope. They called! She'd glugged the lot back and I dutifully dropped the second at reception straight after pumping. It was a day of triumphs: not only did she drink two bottles, but she also ate apple sponge & custard (with her hands, to my amusement and their distress), banana cake and toast.

And then there's today... Friday's are Mummy's days. We had a lie in, plenty of booby access for Baby Badger. A leisurely breakfast, off to music group and then lunch. We cuddled up again mid afternoon for a nap and then went for a walk. Bliss!

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Friday, 3 June 2011

It's finally happened...

... It's the last day of my maternity leave. Baby Badger is at the nursery until 2pm and I'm sat having a relaxing lunch (salad to be healthy followed by crumble because I can) and wondering what next week holds.

I blogged before about my concerns regarding going back to work, and they've not really changed. She's had a practice day with each set of grandparents and took no more than a couple of ounces of expressed milk, preferring to hold out for the source at the end of the day. She is adventurous with food, but still not eating large amounts. Taking into consideration that she's only put on 5oz in two months, I'm a little concerned: hopefully today's lunch at nursery will have gone a bit better than the first settling in session. If not we'll be continuing to shovel down full fat yoghurt after every meal (which she loves)!

I've been feeling quite upset about going back to work recently. The thought of leaving her with someone else, when she's been used to me pretty much all of every day for the last year. She's changing so much now, sometimes on a daily basis, and I'm loathe to miss out on it. She is so close to walking and I'd be disappointed not to see the first independent steps.

On a more selfish note, I've been dreading it because I'm expecting to be dead on my feet for the first few weeks. I hate mornings, and it's going to be a 6:30 start and out of the door at 7:30, with all three of us clean, dressed and fed. That seems like a herculean task! Then follows a day at work (where I spend my lunch break expressing in the medical room) before collecting Baby Badger on the way home. I'll be back before Father Badger most days, so I'll be flying solo for a while looking after her (which I assume I'll be looking forward to) and trying to get dinner sorted. And that's before I consider how on earth I get the vast quantities of laundry done.

This week, however, I've been feeling more positive. We've done several trial runs at the morning, getting up at 6:30 and ready for 7:30. We managed, although I'm pretty tired. Other than not eating enough food, the first two hour nursery session went well, as did the practice days with grandparents.

I think she's going to be ok. I just hope I am.

Image: Phiseksit /

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Who covers for Mum?

I'm on day eight of the cold from hell. I've gone through sore throat, stuffy head, tickly cough, stuffy nose, lost voice, snotty cough, and I'm quite frankly fed up of it!

My first mistake was being Mum. Baby Badger came down with a cold last Wednesday, and the poor thing was sneezing snot everywhere and really not happy about it. The stoopid voice inside my head was grateful that I'd only got a sore throat and had obviously escaped the full force - Hello! Seriously, I thought that?! - and she came into bed with us for the night for some extra comfort and unrestricted booby milk. It did, of course, mean I got much less sleep than normal as our bed is simply not big enough for the three of us, and the cold took hold. Bah!

My second mistake was attempting to carry on regardless: I had a full week of evening activities that I didn't want to cancel. A couple of years ago I could have done it. Apparently now I can't. Bah!!

This wasn't intended to be a rant about feeling unwell, honestly! It is, after all, just a bad cold. I guess my main point here is this: who covers for Mum when she's ill? I had one relatively recuperating day while Baby Badger was still ill so we spent most of it in bed together feeding and sleeping, but for the rest of the week I've had a bright and bushy tailed 11½ month old wanting stories, games, food, carrying around and general full-on awake attention while I've worked my way through mountains of tissues (which I then had to stop her from eating).  Exhausting! It was such bad timing: family members were either away or unavailable; Father Badger wasn't able to work from home at all.

So... what tips do you have for low effort entertaining? Not that I intend being this ill again, but it's always best to be prepared.

By the way, I was amazed at just how quickly Baby Badger recovered from the whole thing - yey for booby milk! I'm actually quite jealous that I'm taking so much longer to kick it - I've had a few people suggest that I express my milk, shove some up my nose and drink the rest. That doesn't entirely appeal, but if it's not gone in a few days I may be reduced to giving it a go...

Image: Paul /

Monday, 16 May 2011

Happy Birthday to me...!

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday dear ****!
Happy birthday to me!

No, I'm not telling you how old I am, but it's somewhere between 30 and 40 and it's not a prime number.

For the last few weeks I've had the usual questions about what I want for a present, and the honest truth is nothing. There's nothing I'm itching to have and nothing particularly I need, and I really don't see the point of people buying me something for the sake of buying me a present.

I had a lovely pre-birthday. Yesterday, as their "present" to me, Father Badger's mum and sister came round and helped me weed a flowerbed. You've not seen the state of my neglected garden, so you don't really get the scale of their generosity! It's gone from three feet high nettles, goose grass, twitch and other assorted weeds to neatly isolated plants surrounded by bare earth. Wow. I say again: wow.

I also had a lovely birthday today. Father Badger took the day off work. He and Baby Badger ran errands this morning, leaving me to lie in until 9:30, I had breakfast cooked for me and then I relaxed in a lovely hot bath to melt away the aches from yesterday's gardening. Once I was up and dressed we went off to a local farm centre to show Baby Badger dexter cattle, geese and alpacas (but mallard ducks waddling past, quacking, were definitely her favourite). We had a lovely lunch at the cafe, with Baby Badger happily scoffing our peas, potatoes and spinach (and a sneaky bit of chocolate pudding). It has truly been a lovely family day together.

As an added bonus to the day, I stepped on the scales this morning to see my change of attitude this past week has paid off: 4lb lighter than last Monday! I've enjoyed a day off with extravagant breakfast and pudding at lunchtime, but I'll knuckle down again tomorrow and see what this week can achieve.

Image: Rawich /

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Steps, sleep and missing my mocha!

Baby Badger has now been in her cotbed in the nursery for two weeks, and is doing remarkably well. She has been sleeping from 11pm until 7am quite happily, so I decided it's now time to work on an earlier bedtime so that we're established with a good night's sleep and a 6:30 start in time for my return to work in June. Obviously, it was never going to go smoothly.

Monday evening went well: she was in bed asleep at 7:45 ready for my mum to babysit for an hour or so, but woke soon after 10 (luckily I was home) screaming at the top of her lungs for milk - screaming so hard that she gave herself hiccups! I got her back off to sleep again, and she woke again at 3am. I've reminded myself that compared to a few months ago when she was waking 2-3 times per night, this was actually a good night! After the recent luxury of a full night's sleep, it didn't feel so good...

I'll put forward my excuses now: after a disturbed night, day two of the new healthier me was not quite as good as day one. I had two biscuits at Baby Signing, but I did skip my usual (much enjoyed mocha) and get a  mug of tea instead. I'm not sure that entirely balances out, but it's a step in the right direction! Speaking of steps, I managed 5,777 of them, again with a 20lb Baby Badger strapped to the front of me for most of them. She did do her best to help me make up for it however, as she ate going on half of my chilli pasta bake at Baby Lunchbox! Don't you just love Baby Led Weaning?!

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

Monday, 9 May 2011

A new healthier me: day one

Today is day one of a new healthier me.

I'm not expecting overnight miracles. I'm not expecting to drop all my bad eating habits overnight. I'm going to try to chip away bit by bit at the unhealthy me; try to make each day slightly better than the last.

Today started with a few aches after a lot of digging in the garden yesterday, but I dragged myself out of bed as soon as Baby Badger had finished her first booby feed at around half past seven and got on with the day.

Food-wise it's an improvement on recent weeks. Muesli for brekkie, and toasted bagels with cheese, olives and apple for lunch (shared with Baby Badger). I had a slice of toast with marmalade mid-afternoon, which shouldn't have snuck in there, but hey ho. Dinner was chicken, boiled potatoes and asparagus with a little mayo. Also, only three mugs of tea today so, on balance, a pretty good day.

What about the dreaded exercise? My pedometer says I've done 6,015 steps, and most of those were done in my MBTs*. A good 3,00 or so were done with my 11 month old daughter in a sling, so that's got to count for something!

I'm counting today as a success. Roll on day two.

* If you don't know what MBTs are, check out the UK MBT website where they explain the benefits. I can honestly say that my leg and bum muscles feel like I've spent hours in the gym!


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tomorrow is the start of something new

It's been a good weekend. I spent a lot of yesterday pottering around, not getting a lot done other than relaxing and playing with Father Badger and Baby Badger.

Today was more productive: a lot of digging and weeding in the garden, plenty of laundry (boring) and a bit more playing - this time with the sticklebricks I found on a stall at a fete last weekend. Father Badger showed his typically male tendencies by immediately building a robot and something gun-shaped. I followed up with my OCD tendencies and filed them neatly into similar shape piles...

All dinner plans went out of the window as I was still digging at half past six, and we ended up having a takeaway. Obviously Baby Badger didn't have takeaway: she had yoghurt and banana, feeding herself like a big girl. Only she's not a big girl, she's 11 months old, so obviously a fair amount of the yoghurt ended up on her face, the floor, the chair, my shoulder (how?).

Tonight's takeaway is one (or possibly ten) takeaway too far. I've been thinking a lot lately about my health and weight, which is a good couple of stone too high. I've been trying to assess what goes wrong. I'm intelligent and educated: I know what I should eat, how much exercise I should get. I understand that a lot of the time I eat the right foods but too much of them. I also acknowledge that I am an emotional eater and can happily trough an entire 100g chocolate bar in one go if I think I'll feel better at the end of it.

What it appears to boil down to is willpower and motivation. A few mums have been tweeting about Thinking Slimmer, which claims to change your attitude to food rather than putting you on a diet. It sounds exactly what I need, even if I am a little sceptical.

Image: sundayhill /

Silent Sunday - 8 May 2011

Take a look at more of today's Silent Sunday posts...

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful: sleep, splashes and family time

I thought it was about time I joined in with Michelle's Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop, especially considering what a lovely week we've had.

Father Badger has been off work since last Thursday, taking advantage (as millions of other people have) of the extra bank holiday to get lots of time off work for minimal annual leave. A full seventeen days as a family! It really has been lovely to spend so much time together, even if a lot of it has been spent catching up with jobs around the house. We've had a day out in Bath shopping, we've spent hours doubled over holding Baby Badger's hands while she walks around, we've spent time with family and gone on walks. I really don't want it to end after the bank holiday.

Today we went swimming, all three of us. It's the first time we've taken Baby Badger to a swimming pool. I know this is rather late in the day at almost eleven months old, but for months she hated baths and my reasoning was that if I couldn't keep her in a bath for more than thirty seconds without screaming, attempting a swimming pool was not going to be a winner. She loved it! Our local pool has a beach effect where it starts incredibly shallow and gradually gets to a depth for swimming. We spent the first ten minutes or so sitting in the shallows while she splashed and gradually went deeper. She was pretty happy being pulled forward on her tummy with my hands under her arms, not at all keen on going onto her back, however she was supported, and forgave me for dunking her under four times!

I decided a little while ago that I would like her to be in her own room by the time I go back to work in June. She'll be a year old and doesn't seem to need night feeds any more, and I think we'll all sleep better - we won't need to tiptoe, we won't wake her up turning over in bed, and I'll probably sleep better too. Last night we had her in her big girl room for the first time. How did it go? She slept soundly from 11 until our alarm went off at 7am. Hooray! I wonder if she'll do it again tonight...?

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

Saturday, 23 April 2011

To believe or not to believe

A few days ago I came across a post by Bethan (no Y) regarding religion and her journey to find religion. Did she find it? Go read her post and find out... It got me thinking about my own struggles with faith.

I was brought up in a Christian family. My father's family are Catholic, with several priests in the family. My mother's family are Methodist. I chose to be baptised in the Church of England, presumably because it was familiar: both my primary and the local church are C of E. I went to sunday school and later church student group, and sang in the chapel choir at University.

Father Badger is firmly atheist. Not agnostic (i.e. not bothered, no firm beliefs) but militantly atheist: he firmly believes in no higher power, and he thinks that organised religion is a cause of evil in humanity. To an extent I sympathise with him: there have been many atrocities committed in the name of one faith or another; tribes and peoples are at war because of conflicting faiths. I do however think that if religion was not available to justify these actions, another basis would be chosen: race, colour or similar.

We were married in church, in the village where I grew up. This may seem hypocritical, especially when I say that my faith was already wavering. The vicar was fully aware that Father Badger was not religious, but said he did not see it as a problem as long as the vows were taken with the right intentions and that he was comfortable saying them in church. It was important to me to marry there, mainly because I see that church and its congregation as the centre of my community and upbringing and full of many people that mean a lot to me.

Over the last few years I have become gradually more aware, and recently consciously admitted to myself, that I don't believe in god. I can't pinpoint when it happened, and I'm not even sure if I ever did - I can't think of a moment in the past where I passionately believed, although I must have at some point. I can't see how a god could allow wars, famine, disease. There is no grand plan, no reason for everything. I do however think that church can be a great strength in the community, and provides a good set of morals for bringing up children.

The agreement I have with Father Badger is that Baby Badger must be brought up respecting other people's beliefs, be that in a god or in nothing. I want her to go to church occasionally so she understands her family background, but it's her choice when she's older as to whether she becomes involved or not.

My biggest problem with the lack of faith is guilt. My father is definitely not a believer any more, a result of deployment to war zones with the RAF, but my mother is still firmly Christian. I know she will be devastated if she finds out that I have no faith, and I really don't want to hurt her in this way, but I also don't want to live a lie. My way of dealing with this is to turn up to church on important occasions by way of it being a family event, but I don't read the prayers aloud and I abstain from communion. One day, though, she's going to ask me a question that I can't sidestep and the emotional car crash will occur.

Do you struggle with a similar dilemma? How do you deal with having different beliefs to your family? Have you had the conversation I dread, and how did it go?

Image: nuchylee /

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Guardian Questions & Answers Meme

I've been tagged by Stay at Home Mum over at sahmlovingit, but the meme was born over at Mrs Lister Writes and is based on The Guardian Weekend Magazine questions.

I'm just back from a self-imposed exile from my blog and Twitter in order to get more sleep and concentrate on the important job of being mum. Hopefully this is a nice way to return refreshed. And now for my answers...

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My Dad. He's truly a good a person, kind, caring. He made a good career for himself after leaving school with few qualifications, then in his fifties took up his RAF commission to make a difference in some very dangerous locations.

When were you happiest?
My wedding day. Truly the best day of my life, and I can pretty much remember every moment.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Honestly, I don't tend to get embarrassed in a big way. Maybe because I've never had a tendency to do stupid things on alcohol, and maybe because I'm thick-skinned.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
My car. I think anyone who doesn't say that either drives a banger or has very expensive taste in jewellery.

What is your most treasured possession?
My engagement ring. Father Badger chose the stone and had it shipped to the jewellers and I would be devastated to lose it.

Where would you like to live?
Right where I am. I live in the village where I grew up, with family on both sides near by. All I might change is to move to a more characterful house with a bit more garden.

What’s your favourite smell?
I'm definitely not a perfume girl. Good quality chocolate and vanilla rate highly on my favourites, but also fresh ripe fruit: mango, lime, strawberry.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
I'm rubbish on actors, mainly due to my inability to sit still and watch an entire film. Someone once compared me to Liv Tyler, athough I think they were being extremely kind, so let's go with her.

What is your favourite book?
It's too hard to narrow down. I could read Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" series again and again.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Picking Baby Badger's bogeys. If I spot one, it's got to come out...

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Anything with an element of goth or rock: leather, studs, black eye liner. There's a whole host of famous characters, superheroes, etc. that give the excuse...

What is your earliest memory?
Falling in a rather large pond at a friend's house. I was probably about four. It was the first of many ponds I fell in.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
If I've had a tough day and the car needs filling up, I sneak a chocolate bar for the way home.

What do you owe your parents?
My education and morals.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
An ex-boyfriend from university. We split up over a strange misunderstanding/argument and he took it very badly. I didn't mean to hurt him, but I guess it can't have been that strong a relationship in the first place.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Until June 2010 it was my husband: I can't imagine my life without him. From June he's been usurped by my daughter by a narrow margin.

What does love feel like?
Exciting and all-encompassing yet comfortable and familiar.

What was the best kiss of your life?
The kiss at our wedding, which was followed by a huge round of applause by the congregation.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"I was gonna say..." as an introductory phrase to almost anything.

What is the worst job you've done?
Mucking out stables for free. I lasted one day.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
The evening I introduced my dad to South Park. It turned out to be the episode making light of cancer and it was soon after my gran died of a brain tumour. I should have turned it off but didn't know what to do or say and I think it hurt him that I was watching it.

What is the closest you've come to death?
The accident where my car was written of by a lorry. Luckily we were both going pretty slowly and I swerved otherwise it probably would have gone into the drivers door. As it happens, both my boyfriend (now husband) and I walked away from it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Other than giving birth... my Open University degree, a first in Maths and Computing. I studied over a period of eight years while working full time.

When did you last cry, and why?
Yesterday. I was tired and grumpy.

How do you relax?
I spend far too long on the internet: on my phone on Facebook or Twitter; on my laptop blogging or managing a couple of community group websites. Sometimes just browsing rubbish.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Sleep. A good ten hours per night, but with still plenty of hours left in the day to do everything I want and need to.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don't worry about things you can't change.

I'm meant to tag some people here... I know this meme has been doing the rounds so a lot of people have done it already. If you fancy a go, leave a comment to say so and I'll add you.

Image: Jomphong /

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Varied Colours and Textures of Life

Before Baby Badger arrived in my life I would never have imagined the level of fascination I have for nappies. This fascination is on many levels.

Firstly, there's the sniff test. Don't deny it, we've all done it. You're at Baby Music group, or chatting to another mum over coffee, and you've a sneaking suspicion that the odour permeating the conversation is coming from your little darling. What do you do? Start the laborious process of removing layers of clothing without invoking the wrath of your child, or simply lift them into the air and sniff the nappy region? The latter, obviously. My core screams "euughhh", but the now-seasoned mummy in me says "perfectly practical".

Secondly there's the type of nappy. I wrote many months ago about my aspirations to stop Baby Badger from winning the battle of Baby vs The World. We started off as evil/convenient as we could be: a popular brand of disposable nappies (partly because they were the only ones that did a size small enough for our tiny daughter) together with one of those magic bins that seals the soiled nappies away in what looks like a string of plastic sausages. Non-degradable nappies double-sealed in plastic. Cringe.

Since then we've moved onto supposedly better disposables, in this case Bambo Nature nappies. They claim to be fully degradable, although I'm not sure whether the tabs will actually break down. A rival of theirs, Moltex, have actually been proven to be fully degradable to the extent that one city council (I think Leicestershire) have agreed to take the nappies in their compost bins. Of course, that did mean we stopped using the magic nappy sausage machine as there's no point wrapping degradable nappies in impervious plastic; we now use degradable bags.

Our final step was to cloth nappies, prefolds (which, confusingly, aren't the nappies that are folded to look like disposables). We are doing it the yuppy way - we found a laundry service. Once a week they pick up the soiled nappies and drop off a bag of nice clean ones. I tell myself that it's far more hygenic and environmentally  friendly for the nappies to be washed and dried in bulk (which may be true) but obviously I'm doing it to avoid the yuck factor! If we go away or out on a long day out we revert to the eco-disposables, but generally we're using the cloths and I feel very virtuous! It's been going well for the last four months and I intend to continue.

Finally, we come to the real fascination... the nappy contents. Poo! Yes, I said it! When Baby Badger was young, the fascination was checking that poo was frequent enough. I was terrified that after her shaky start she might not be feeding enough, so I counted daily nappies, assessed their weight. Yum. Now that she's piling on the pounds I don't worry about that. No poo for five days? No problem... just brace yourself for the poonami when it arrives.

Now that we're on solid food, the fascination is in what's coming out. Is it liquid and yellow, like breastfed poo? If so, she's obviously not been eating much for a few days. Has she been chewing? Definitely not in the case of peas, but strangely yes with sweetcorn kernels (or at least the majority of them). Why does banana poo look like worms - it's very disturbing! Is the black bit olive, mushroom or aubergine? How many days does it take for a piece of chicken to come out the other end? I've not yet attempted beetroot, mainly because we'll probably have to throw away whatever she's wearing, but partly because when it "appears" three days later I'll have forgotten what it is and end up at A&E in a panic!

This post is part of the Poo Carnival over at Notes From Home. Why not head over there now and see who else joined in?

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Image: tungphoto /
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