Sunday, 27 March 2011

How do you perceive me? The 1 Word Meme

This meme was started by the lovely Michelle over at Mummy From The Heart, and I was tagged by Aly at Plus 2.4

I had noticed this meme doing the rounds and I have to admit I was quite nervous about being tagged: I'm new on the blogging scene and it would be a bit crushing for no one to comment! Go on... make me a happy girl...!

Almost forgot to tag anyone! Here goes: @and1moremeans5 @Polythenepram @hotcrossmum @domanarchist    and @MellyBentley.

Silent Sunday - 27 March 2011

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

Silent Sunday

Friday, 25 March 2011

Where's the romance, the love?

My local commercial radio station is running a competition: 2 Strangers & A Wedding. The station launched a campaign to find a single woman interested in finding the man of her dreams, and is now looking for a man for her. In April they are to marry at the Oxford Malmaison and honeymoon in Mallorca. This may be sounding like the dream wedding package to some of you, but here's the catch: the couple will not meet until their wedding day.

I haven't paid enough attention to the competition to know the intricate details, but a couple of things immediately  spring to mind... They're not going to meet?! The entire competition from the applications to the actual wedding is only two months, so even via exposure in the radio station they'll barely know each other. What if there's no spark? Worse still, what if there's a spark on one side and not the other? The terms and conditions require the applicants to disclose any criminal convictions, but what if one of them is a nutter!

Local clergy have objected on the grounds that this makes a mockery of the sanctity of marriage. I can see why they are upset, although my agnosticism means I'm not that bothered. I do worry that it makes a mockery of the level of personal commitment that marriage implies. The couple will be taking vows that they have no ability to commit to: how can they promise their lives to a complete stranger?

There has been a lot of discussion on the station's website. Some have compared it to arranged marriages. I think this is different: although arranged marriages have had bad press, there are some that are successful. These successful ones are where the parents have chosen carefully knowing their daughter or son's personality and outlook on life. This radio station cannot possibly think their panel (combined with the infinite wisdom of their listeners) are capable of making a good match?

In my eyes this is simply a competition to win a free holiday to Mallorca with an "interesting twist". What do you think?

Image: Sharron Goodyear /

Thursday, 24 March 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it...

Life is about to change.

Baby Badger has always been happiest on her feet. From the age of about four months, if tears began they could be averted for a good ten minutes by simply putting her on her feet with some support under the arms, and she'd look beamingly happy; so proud of herself. That hasn't changed.

I've been wondering when she'd start to crawl. She hates tummy time, with a maximum tolerance of about two minutes (with 15 seconds being the average). Part of me has been willing her to figure it out so that she's less frustrated (and, I admit, because I spend most of my day picking her up and moving her between places). The other part of me has been relieved that I can put her down somewhere and know she's not going to be getting the bleach out from under the sink if I look away.

It's all changed. No - she's still not crawling, and not looking as though she's going to any time soon. She's worked out how to get onto her feet all on her own and cruise the furniture. Oh boy!

I'm off to baby proof every edge, corner and cupboard (whilst whistling that fine R.E.M. tune)...

Image: TCJ2020 /

Monday, 21 March 2011

Running out of time

Spring has sprung and the countdown has begun. Baby Badger is now over nine months old - as Father Badger puts it "she's spent more time out than in"! All of these things are lovely and exciting but it also means that my maternity leave is running out and it's causing an internal conflict I never would have predicted before becoming Mum.

There's a big part of me that wants to return to work. I've worked hard since leaving university, soaking up knowledge in my field and climbing a decent way up the ladder. The professional in me desperately wants to continue advancing my career, gaining knowledge and respect from my peers along the way. I've simply put too much into it to throw it away. I'm also a strong, independent woman and I feel very uncomfortable with the fact that I am unwaged at the moment: not because we are in financial difficulties (although obviously things have been tight over the last few months) but because I have always been on an equal footing with Father Badger in terms of what I contribute to the coffers and I somehow see that as earning me an equal footing in the decisions we make about our home and lifestyle.

The same part of me worries that I've changed on my year away from work and won't be able to pick up where I left off. The job I do requires me to care about what I do; to throw all of myself into my work, providing top customer service and going above and beyond to make sure the best possible outcome is achieved. My priorities have changed: I can't easily put in the extra hours the job sometimes requires; I assume all I'm going to want to do at the end of the day is rush out to see Baby Badger. I can count on one hand the times I've had more than four hours sleep in one go: can I really function on this much sleep? Ultimately, will I care enough about what I'm doing when it will naturally come second to my daughter? I take pride in doing a good job and can I cope with only giving 80% of myself to my colleagues?

There's the hassle factor... I am still breastfeeding and don't intend to stop as I would like Baby Badger to decide when to wean from the breast. We're doing Baby Led Weaning, which is great, but she's not yet taking in food in any great quantity so she's not yet dropping feeds. This wouldn't be an issue except that a few months ago she stopped taking expressed milk: she now flatly refuses the bottle. We're making slow progress in getting her to drink water from a variety of sippy cups so hopefully we can progress onto milk - we've got two months to get it sorted! I've had the conversation with HR regarding somewhere to pump at work (oh, the dignity) and although it took them by surprise they have come back with a sensible suggestion. This is a good thing but it does mean that I will have to pump and eat lunch at the same time. I shouldn't complain though as it's my decision to still be breastfeeding.

There's also the childcare... We are lucky enough to live near both sets of grandparents and they are covering two days per week between them. I think this is fantastic as Baby Badger will grow up knowing them well. She will be going to a local nursery for the remainder of the week. It's a good nursery, and they say they are happy with the less mainstream things I'm asking of them, namely feeding expressed milk and using cloth nappies. I am dreading leaving her there as she is experiencing really bad separation anxiety - unless Father Badger is around, I can barely make it out of the room before she screams, and I can't bear hearing her unhappy.

Then there's mealtimes. As I mentioned, we're doing Baby Led Weaning. The more I think about it, the more I am against traditional weaning. It seems crazy to shovel food down Baby Badger's throat, distracting her in order to sneak another spoonful in. Yes, I know generations have been fed that way, but it doesn't mean it's right. It's very important to me that she continues to be in control of what and how much she eats as I believe it will lead to a more adventurous palate and the ability to listen to her appetite. My worry is that either the nursery staff or grandparents aren't going to entirely "get it" and mess it up. Is this the control freak in me trying to get out?

Then there's the last little problem. I'm going to miss her. I don't want someone else seeing the first time she walks; the first proper words; her cheeky grin. Maybe this is the biggest issue for me...?

All the above makes it look as though I'm in a dilemma, but that's not the case. The terms of my maternity package mean that I'm tied to going back for at least six months (or pay back a sizeable chunk of money), so I don't really have a choice to make: I'm going back at the start of June. I guess my dilemma is convincing myself that it's the right choice. I'm working on it...


Friday, 11 March 2011

An interesting (if chilly) week

We all have one. A task that really needs to be done, but somehow seems less urgent than the rest of the items on your list, so it sinks further down the list, into obscurity. To be honest, I've got many such tasks, such as "stop eating cake", "get some exercise", "clean the bathroom"...! The task that was put off until this week, and really shouldn't have been, was to service the boiler.

You just jumped to a conclusion, didn't you? Actually, it didn't break. I finally got my arse in gear and booked a service. Dodgy Geezer & son (no, that's not their trading name, and it's probably a little unfair of me) turned up as arranged on Monday afternoon and took a mere fifteen minutes to drink their coffee, take the front cover off our four year old boiler and tell me that they had switched it off and it was too dangerous to switch back on again. Not a good moment, especially with minus four degrees forecast for overnight. Dodgy (again, unfair of me, but he did have that slightly Grant Mitchell look about him) made some calls and came up with a price to fit a new one, and we spent the next couple of days getting quotes, hoping the price would come down to something a little less startling, which of course it didn't.

In the meantime, we've been living an adjusted lifestyle. We do (thank goodness!) have a wood burner in the living room, so each evening we've been huddled round a roaring fire: quite nice actually even if it is a bit of a bugger to light. [On a side note, those bags of logs you get from petrol stations are rubbish - have they never heard of seasoning logs so that they are dry enough to burn? Bah!] We've used the temperature in the kitchen as an excuse for two takeaway dinners! At the end of each evening I've had a brief foray into the kitchen to microwave a heatpad for the cat basket (for two very disgruntled moggies), then it's a mad dash up to the bedroom, hoping that the plug-in radiator has done its job.

It's been a bit like camping, only without the fresh air and baked beans, plus Baby Badger has been back in our bed as we didn't know how cold the room would get, so we've not been able to pull the covers up to our noses like we'd have liked... brrrr...!

As of 4pm this afternoon we have a new boiler, hot water and central heating. I even took my jumper off this evening. What luxury! I'm now looking forward to a lovely night's sleep (other than the inevitable night feeds), taking advantage of the space in bed without baby, all the covers... mmmm.

Oh yes, and I've made a note in my calendar to book a boiler service next March. Not going to get caught out by this one again!

Image: kongsky /

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Messin' with his head!

Father Badger and I have rather different ideas on how to dress Baby Badger.

I'm not an obsessive about dressing her as a pretty little baby girl, in fact so many people think she's a boy I must be aiming more towards the tomboy end of the scale. I'm learning that convention states that all baby girls wear pink. If a baby is not in pink, it must be a boy. What a load of tosh...

Actually, pink is not that difficult. We were lucky enough to have three sacks full of clothes handed to us by my best friend: her sister has a girl a year older than Baby Badger. Apparently she was dressed head to toe in pink, with a smattering of lilac. I put my anti-pink tendencies aside and was thankful for the vast quantity of free clothing; after all, babies grow out of stuff so quickly.

Luckily, Father Badger's cousin also gave us her son's clothes and, unsurprisingly, there's not an ounce of pink in there. That has allowed me temper the pinkness: pink shirt and black dungarees, pink shirt and jeans, blue shirt and pink dungarees; you get the pattern... We've also supplemented with extras, such as bright stripy tights, cardigans and coats.

Father Badger has required some training. Firstly that tights do not go on the outside of sleepsuits: I guess having not worn tights himself it's a forgiveable mistake... Secondly that if you put denim dungarees on top of a sleepsuit (especially one that's on the large side) you end up with a baby that cannot bend its limbs, michelin man style. I'm fighting a losing battle with the aesthetic elements. Father Badger considers her to be coordinated if he matches the patterns on the items of clothing, resulting in the odd migraine inducing combination of differently striped tights, trousers and top, or polka dots in pink, red and green.

Today I messed with his head and put her in spotty top and stripey trousers in matching two shades of purple, which broke his rules but met mine. I think she looks gorgeous, girly and not a drop of pink anywhere to be seen!

Evenings just aren't evenings any more

I've blogged before about bedtimes. I guess we've not gone down the traditional route with bedtime and Baby Badger. Some would say we are weak-willed, others would recognise it as a type of attachment parenting. For the first five months we co-slept, with all the associated guilt is piled on. Quite honestly I wouldn't have had any sleep if we hadn't as Baby Badger fed two hourly for a long time, and after her shaky start there was no way I was going to discourage feeding. We have since managed to get her to spend the night in her own cot, which sounds more impressive than it is...

Her cot is next to our bed (yes - she's almost nine months old and not in her own room - tick: parent fail number one). She doesn't go to bed until 11pm and I feed her to sleep in our bed then transfer her (tick: parent fail numbers two and three). She has a feed at about 3am (no, she isn't "sleeping through" - tick: parent fail number four) in our bed and is then transferred back after she's fallen asleep feeding (tick: I've lost count, but you get the idea...), and her morning feed is some time between 6am and 9am, after which we get up and go on with the day.

I have an inner conflict about this state of affairs.

The cold, independent pre-mum in me is desperately fighting for some time to regain my identity and ability to achieve at least one non-baby-related task per day. That's quite a tall order when I'm actively being mum for 99% of my waking hours, and why I'm blogging at midnight! I would love for my evenings to be evenings again. I'd like to spend some time with Father Badger as a couple - I'm not talking nookie (quite frankly I'm more interested in undisturbed sleep!). He is wonderful at looking after Baby Badger when he's home to try to free me up, but it means that his attention is on her rather than me and I can't remember the last time we just curled up together.

The smitten, adoring mum in me has absolutely no wish to change anything. I like cuddling up with Baby Badger in bed to feed her. I love it when she falls asleep on me on the sofa in the evening (apart from the aforementioned inability to do anything while she pins me down). I absolutely refuse to try controlled crying to get her down to sleep: it is perfectly natural for her to expect me to come to her if she cries and I don't want to reset her expectation so that she doesn't try - babies are not meant to be independent creatures!

The logical part of me knows that something does need to change. I'm going back to work in June and I will need to be getting a decent night's sleep by then - I can only think of a handful of occasions in the last nine months where I slept for longer than four hours in one stretch (MI5 would be proud of my resilience under extreme torture).

So... what's the next step? We're going to go back to basics. A tickle under the chin to half-wake her after she feeds to sleep, to help teach her to self-settle. Maybe next we'll move the feed to before the bedtime story. And then move bedtime forward half an hour. And again. And again, until it resembles 8pm rather than 11pm. It's going to be a slow process - wish me luck!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Our first proper playdate

Today was Baby Badger's first proper playdate at home. We have always tended to meet up with other mums out and about: the local children's centre, tea (and of course cake) at the cafe, even the pub (bad mummy alert). In the early days it was to get us out of the house and preserve my sanity; nowadays it's because there is much better cake to be found out elsewhere!

Today was different. We had three mums and four babies (yes - a set of twins) coming over for tea. I spent the morning running round with the Hoover and generally tidying (have I mentioned before that housework is not my strong point?). A brief panic at lunchtime over the lack of cake in the house was averted by a trip to the local shop for the best looking biscuits.

The next step was to shift the living room furniture to accommodate five babies and mums and then fill the available space with play mat, gym, bouncy chair, bumbo and copious toys. Result: a happy looking mess!

Thankfully, the afternoon was a success. Toys were shared, noone impaled or bludgeoned themselves on unseen hazards, gossip and tea flowed, and best of all... the biscuits didn't get finished!

Image: Phiseksit /
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