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?

Friday ClubShowOff Showcase

Image: tungphoto /

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

I got the Liebster Award!

I was reading through the comments on my last Silent Sunday post, and amongst the cries of "Yummy!" (it was a picture of chocolate truffles, guaranteed to get your tummy rumbling), I spotted a comment from the lovely TracyT over at Beads, Paper, Glue passing me the Liebster award!

This is an award for the little blogs (less than 300 followers). The rules are:

  1. Post displaying the award, linking back to the person who awarded you.
  2. Choose your own blog picks and let them know they’re been given the award .
  3. Hope everyone discovers some new favourites.
  4. Revel in the blog love!

I found these lovely blogs and have sent them on the award:

Why not pop over and take a look...?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

What being a parent means to me...

This post is part of a meme hosted by Tasha at The Domestic Anarchist to support the launch of the Maternity Matters blog, which is dedicated towards raising awareness of birth trauma, the positive birth choices that women are entitled to make and the steps which families can take to move on with their lives after a traumatic birth.

Being a parent means... tiredness. Sleep is obviously going to be elusive but I'm sure I will adjust; I guess I have already.

Being a parent means... patience. The patience to understand that Baby Badger doesn't understand that I'll be back in a minute and that it may well be the end of the world to her that I want a moment on my own to wee without having to set up a play gym in the bathroom doorway!

Being a parent means... strength. The strength I will no doubt need to show for her as she grows up. I hope that I have the strength to cope with the inevitable tantrums in the terrible twos and the teenage years (and possibly the years in between) and to deal with them with fairness and respect.

Being a parent means... responsibility. I have a responsibility to make sure she grows up with respect for others. I have a responsibility to ensure that she has all that she needs (but not necessarily wants): a healthy balanced lifestyle; good education; fun and games, not just with her peers but also with her parents; unconditional love and support.

Being a parent means... time. The frustrating time that I don't have for myself, which is balanced out by the enjoyable time spent in her company. The time I must learn to set aside to give my undivided attention to her to read, play and cuddle; and the time I must take to relax and recuperate so that I can be a better mother when I am with her.

Being a parent means... pride. The pride I feel as she throws herself into new experiences: different food; shaky steps along the edge of the sofa; new places, new games, new people - all admirably coped with.

Being a parent means... love. The rush of love I feel when she finishes her morning feed, waggles her arms and legs furiously and giggles in contentment. The way my heart melts when her face lights up because I've come into the room. The love that is always there.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Shopping and a home visit

A few days ago I wrote a guest post for The Real Supermum about how I'd been feeling recently. I got lots of great advice about how to lift my mood, but also that I should take my blues seriously and work on dealing with them rather than hiding them away.

This morning happened to be Baby Badger's 8 month check (or in my area the 6-12 month check as they are too short-staffed to get everyone done on time). On Father Badger's insistence, I mentioned to the Health Visitor that I'd been feeling a bit weepy. I said I thought it was probably down to lack of sleep but that I thought I should mention it. She immediately launched into troubleshooting our sleeping arrangements and night feeds and asked nothing else about how I was.

I feel a tad short-changed! I'm fairly sure I don't have PND; I've done a bit of reading to rule it out and although I definitely am a bit down at the moment, I don't appear to be suffering enough for the label (and I honestly am relieved by this). It's not that I wanted her sympathy, but surely she should have asked a few more questions to rule it out for herself? It would have been reassuring to have a health professional tell me I'm okay.

My day did pick up after this. I managed to work my way through a few tasks on my list (arranging couriers to collect various bits, booking the cats in for vaccinations - thrilling!) then Baby Badger and I headed out for a bit of shopping.

We went to the local retail park to buy storage boxes and jars. I succeeded on the jars but in a moment of insanity left without boxes and instead a large neon parrot hand puppet. I know. Not the same. But it does make a very realistic skwawk when you squeeze the beak...

We then went round Tescos. I would normally have Baby Badger in a carrier, freeing up my hands for the trolley, but for the first time she went into the seat of a big trolley. She loved every minute, bouncing up and down (thank goodness for the safety strap), waving her arms, and generally charming the pants off everyone. A lovely end to the day!

Image: nuchylee /

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