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 /
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