Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The evil plans against lumpy

Ok, now iz rains. So much rains. Iz clearly part of ongoing evil plan to drowns me to death. Devon is in on its with thems. Pasties now waterlogged, only just edibles. Howeverz, as some person says before, I still has boobs. Plans to cling on to thems for dear life and not let goes. They are excelents floatations device. Will not drown lumpies. Am too clevers for thems.

Manage to nail this message to a sheeps that floated by. Sheeps also excelents floatations device. Will use as back up plan in case boobs fail me.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Devon knows

Lumpy reporting. Have been abducted and taken to place they calls 'Devon'. Interwebs unheard of here. Hijacked passing seagull and tied this message to it in hope it get to yous. Lumpy need rescuings. Think they plans to throw me in sea. Also, iz cold. V v v cold. Brrrrr.

But they do has pasties. So maybes ok. Don't send helps immediately. Will assess imminence of dangers, and sends more seagullz if possible. Over.

Friday, 24 September 2010


(Well, that should get me a few more hits from the googlepervs, anyway. Welcome, perverts! I'm sure you'll find much of interest here).

I'd like to take a moment to talk about the wonder of boobs. My boobs in particular. Have you seen them lately? They're spectacular.

The effect of pregnancy and child fattening on the breastal regions is not advertised nearly enough. Throughout pregnancy, my boobs grew and grew, going from a perfectly respectable 32D at the start, to an earth-shattering 34H at 39 weeks.

And then the milk came in. My god, they really don't explain what happens when 'the milk comes in'. It was like having an ill-advised, Chantelle-off-of-Big-Brother boob job overnight. They didn't just get big, they turned into attention-seeking missiles. They were rock hard and spherical, and defied gravity in a most disturbing fashion. At least twice the size of Lumpy's head (and remember, this is a 98th percentile head we're talking about here, not one of those pathetic little baby pea-heads. His is virtually adult sized already), he must have been petrified every time one loomed towards him, fronted by its eight-foot nipple. I told Mr Badger I was worried this would lead to an obsession with massive, Jordan-esque breasts in later life. He looked momentarily confused, before saying, "What, like every other man?" Fair point, I suppose.

I still struggle with the notion that I am keeping Lumpy alive solely through these boobs, magnificent though they are. I think that Mr Badger may well be sneaking a few pies into him at the dead of night. But he swears he's not, despite the pile of Fray Bentos trays steadily growing beside the cot. By the looks of it, Steak and Ale with extra lard is his favourite. Atta boy.

Pies aside, I've become slightly obsessed with how much weight I can make Lumpy put on purely through the power of boobs. We're coming up on 6lbs over birth weight right now, with Lumpy weighing in at a bit under 14lbs. I'm aiming for 20 stone. Okay, so this may lead to a difficult childhood, and some awkwardness at school, eventually resulting in complete social ostracization, but I think it's worth it for the contribution to medical science, and the entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Apparently, you burn an average 500 extra calories while breastfeeding, which should be enough to transform me from a handy rugby prop into a size zero supermodel over the course of Lumpy's babyhood (especially if I keep pushing for the 20 stone). This doesn't seem to be happening so far (possibly because I spend the whole day eating my body weight in pick 'n' mix while watching Morse reruns), but I'm prepared to keep trying for as long as it takes. I mean, there's nothing disturbing about a woman breastfeeding her teenage son, is there?

And with the mighty boobs come the wonders of the nursing bra. These have many excellent features, such as easy nipple access flaps (that'll keep the perverts happy) that you invariably forget to do up when you go and answer the door to the postman. It makes his morning, I can tell you. And occasionally takes his eye out. They are also extremely useful as emergency tents, in case you find yourself caught short on a mountainside in an unexpected snowstorm. In fact, my friend has already booked to hold her wedding in one of my bras next September. There won't be a dry eye in the house.

And pumping! How did I forget the delights of pumping? You really haven't lived till you've sat on the couch with your nipple being rhythmically sucked in and out of a plastic breast pump, while your husband looks on, transfixed. If that doesn't make you feel sexy, then frankly you're dead from the waist down.

So, in conclusion, breastfeeding boobs - how great are they? They transform you into a ropey page three girl, soak your clothes and anyone sitting too near you at unexpected moments, introduce you to a whole new concept in kinky underwear, and give you an excuse to flash strangers in public. I have no idea why everyone isn't doing it.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Women: Know Your Limits

There's a story doing the rounds at the moment about a pregnant woman in the US who was refused a glass of wine in a restaurant because, according to the waitress, "we don't serve pregnant women here". This has caused all manner of hoo hah and hullabaloo on the bloggowhatnot, with people ranting and raving in that wonderfully measured and well-considered way that the anonymity of the Internet promotes.

I can't really imagine the same thing happening here in the UK -- the waiting staff in most restaurants are generally so inattentive that they'd probably fail to notice if a woman was actually giving birth at the table they were serving, let alone bother making health decisions on her behalf. Besides, I think we're generally less hysterical about alcohol this side of the pond. By American standards, me and most of my friends, family, and casual acquaintances would be considered proper alcoholics in need of rehab, and possibly even execution. And as far as I know, the standard guidance given out by midwives is that a couple of units a couple of times a week is absolutely fine for those who are up the duff. At least that's what my midwife told me -- but maybe she was just an evil renegade who wanted me to KILL MY BAYBEEEE. Perhaps I should have been suspicious when she also told me to take up bullfighting and mainlining crack cocaine straight into my uterus.

Mind you, just because I can't see the restaurant thing happening over here in Blighty doesn't mean that people know how to mind their own bloody business as far as the pregnantly challenged are concerned. When I still had the Lumpster in situ, I went to a class every week at the gym called Body Pump. It involved a group of happy masochists lifting weights to very loud music. A bit like clubbing, but without the booze. Or people trying to grope you. And with more lifting of weights. Anyway, I'd been going to this class for years before I got knocked up, and had lifting big heavy things had been one of my favourite things for as long as I could remember. As soon as I got a positive pregnancy test, I started researching what I could still do, sports-wise, and later asked my midwife, who told me that I should keep doing whatever I was doing before, and just listen to my body (but then she also wanted me to take crack, so who knows what to think?) I reduced my weights gradually as the months went by, but since I'm fairly strong for a laydee, by the last few weeks I was still lifting more than most of the other women in the class. One morning after we'd finished, the instructor took me aside to say that several other members of the class had expressed concerns over the weights that I was lifting. This made me very angry indeed. If it had been the instructor expressing her own concerns, that would have been one thing (though I'd probably still have whacked her with a dumbbell). But the fact that it was other, completely unqualified and frankly ignorant, members of the class, who didn't even have the guts to talk to me face to face, made me spit feathers. Mr Badger, being the reasonable soul that he is, tried to defend these concerned souls, but I was having none of it. The implication behind their 'concerns' was that I was both stupid and a bad mother. They were assuming that I would do something that could harm my baby, that I wouldn't have researched and read everything out there on exercise in pregnancy, and have taken the best advice possible. They were making a moral judgement that they had no place to make. So I killed them. Well, you know. Those pregnancy hormones can make a person kinda crazy.

So the moral of the story is, don't criticize a pregnant woman. And if she wants a glass of wine, give it to her. Then run for cover.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

12 weeks

My darling boy

You've been here for twelve whole weeks. In the weird double time of early babydom, the day you came feels like yesterday, yet it also seems as if you've always been here. I already can't imagine life without you. Your smiles are my morning sunshine, a reason for getting up, even when I've been awake half the night. I don't care -- I'd get up for you at 4am for the rest of my life (though if you did decide to sleep through at some point in the future, that'd be fine too. Just in case you were wondering). Anyway, to celebrate your first twelve weeks, here are twelve things I just love so much about you.

  1. The way you fall asleep on my chest in the morning, arms splayed in an open hug, completely, totally relaxed. I love that you trust me that much. And it gives me a great excuse to lie in and doze till 11am. "Sorry, am trapped under a giant boy, just can't move" (may use this excuse when it's time to go back to work in 9 months time).
  2. Your crazy giant smiles. I can't believe that only six weeks ago I wondered whether you'd ever really smile at me, properly, without immediately being sick afterwards. Now you do nothing but smile: huge, half moon, open-mouthed affairs bursting with joy, whenever you see someone you like. Every time you look into my eyes and explode into one of those smiles it better than winning the lottery. You're my jackpot, twenty times a day.
  3. Your brilliant grasp of the power of speech. I can have half-hour long conversations with you, squawking and gurgling, squealing and cooing, yodelling and grunting (and that's just me). I know you know exactly what you're saying: thank you for putting up witht he fact that I don't always get it. I'll always listen, though.
  4. The way you always try to sneak a sip of your bath water every single night, sliding sneakily down and getting bubbles all over your chin, before I can scoop you back up again. Even when you're being naughty you're adorable. This will serve you very well in the future, believe me.
  5. Your great enthusiasm for television. You'll happily sit on my lap and gaze at anything that's on, from Cash in the Attic to Mastermind. Which is great, 'cos I really like telly, and I was worried I'd end up with some snooty, high-culture baby who'd only be happy sat in front of Pinter or the ballet. That'd be crap.
  6. The fabulous expressiveness of your eyebrows, despite the fact that you actually have no eyebrows. Your frowns and quizzical raises are fantastically eloquent, and seem to have replaced screaming as your preferred method of expressing disapproval, which is brilliant.
  7. That you are, without question, the best baby by far in your swimming class. You may have hated it at first, but now you've got your wetsuit we have to restrain you from diving head first into every spillage and puddle. And you even put up with daddy looking after you in the pool (the video evidence is here).
  8. How incredibly warm and snuggly you are when I get you out of bed for a final change and dream feed last thing at night, like a baby-shaped hot water bottle. It makes me want to cuddle you all night long and never let you out of my arms (this may prove awkward and embarrassing for you in your teens, but such is life).
  9. Your brilliant talent for friendship. Not just your posse of Mr Butterfly, Crazy Bee, Mr Rabbit, Terrence the Tyrannosaurus, Mr Nelifant, and all the rest, but pretty much everyone who meets you becomes your new best friend and greatest fan. You even convert the baby phobics, so may well end up being responsible for a massive spike in the birth rate.
  10. How you tolerate every awful thing I do to you. From snot sucking and nail mangling, to bouncing your head off our stupid low beams and dressing you as a cow, you forgive me for it all, and even seem to love me back. Hopefully you'll forgive me for this blog too, in time, and not end up suing me at the age of 16. I can but hope.
  11. The fact that we can take you absolutely anywhere, and do anything, and you love it all. You've let us drag you 1000 miles across four countries on an epic trip to a German wedding,wheeled you around the chavtastic and very noisy St Gile's Fair (where you met Terrence), and you've accompanied us to restaurants, the cinema, Blenheim Horse Trials (you found them all guilty - boom boom!), and, of course, many, many pubs, and behaved impeccably every time. We were worried having a baby would ruin our social lives, but it's actually made it busier, making us realize that people actually like you better than they like us. Ho hum.
  12. Your world-beating, awe inspiring, and often terrifying poos. (Come on! You didn't think I'd manage a whole post without mentioning poos, did you?) It's like playing Russian Roulette every time I open your nappy, adding thrill and excitement to my days. And it gives me a great excuse to buy more and more nappies, and to go on and on about how wonderful they are at containing the world's greatest poos to anyone who wanders into my vicinity.
That's just twelve, out of a million possible things. Everything about you is better than I ever dared to dream. I love you completely, and more every day. You will always be my perfect, gorgeous, astonishing, completely brilliant boy.

Love from mummy (aka the keeper of the boobs/that strange lady who deals with the poo) xxx

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Grossness quotient restored

It has been brought to my attention that this blog has been falling behind on its grossness quotient lately. In fact, there have been whole posts which have failed to include any reference to snot, poo, vaginas, vomit, or necrophilia. We apologize wholeheartedly for this omission. Please be assured that the blogger responsible has been taken out and shot.

And now, to restore order, balance, and general queasiness:

It's the POO UPDATE! YAY!!!

Lumpy went a whole day without pooing yesterday. Now I know that other babies regularly go for days, weeks, and even whole years without pooing. But not our Lumpy. Ohhhhh no. Our Lumpy is a three poo a day boy. At least. Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday there was no poo in the morning nappy, not even hiding amongst the spots of the doctor-scaring jazzy nappy liners. This was strange, but not unheard of. We just assumed that he was storing it up to do in the swimming pool at baby dunking, to bring shame upon our family name and a lifetime ban from waterbabies. But no. There was no brown slick surrounding him during the Splish Splash dance, and nothing in evidence for the rest of the day. Now, this was strange, eerie, and unheard of. We considered making a sacrifice to the great poo gods, though the thought of what this would involve was too disgusting to even post here (no? really? wonders never cease, indeed).

Rather than being concerned about constipation, we were actually more afraid of what was to come. You see, Lumpy's three-a-day poos are fairly epic affairs. We shuddered to imagine what a built-up-over-two-days poo would be like. I put him to bed after his final feed with quaking hands, convinced that at some point during the night he would blow himself to the ceiling with the geyser-like force of what was brewing inside. Either that, or we would all wake just as we were swept away on a tide of mustard-yellow baby excretion, clinging to the bed for dear life.

Surprisingly, this didn't happen. But what I did discover in his nappy in the morning was indeed astonishing: a veritable sea of poo, seedy and dribbly and steaming. I almost reached for the camera, to share the wonder with you, my loyal followers. But I didn't.

Go on. Admit you're disappointed.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Feline Terrorism Update

Due to the continued presence of the evil invader they call Lumpy, the grand commander Mog has ordered an increase in terrorist activities. The focus is now on night attacks -- the time when our targets are at their most vulnerable. We will strike between the hours of midnight and 6am, and we will strike hard. There must be no mercy. Sharpen your claws, hone your howls. Lie in wait until they have just settled to sleep (preferably after they have spent an hour tending to the archenemy Lumpy) and then wait a little longer. This is the secret to the effectiveness of the attack -- you must lull them into a false sense of relaxation, allowing them to drift into sweet, delicious, much-needed sleep for just long enough. Only then will you pounce upon them (the shoulders and the heads are the most effective spot to aim for greatest surprise and distress). Trample and claw, meowing loudly. Cling on, even when they groan and thrash, ensuring they are entirely awake. If they push you off, clamber back on. If they pick you up and take you out of the room, run back in. Your will is stronger than theirs. When they finally give up, climb under the duvet and stretch out. Take up as much space as possible. They will be too weak and exhausted to resist. When they finally drop to sleep again, begin clawing. Do it gently, and innocently, as if you are just dreaming of running after a mouse, perhaps. Don't worry, it will be enough. Before long, they will be weeping and begging for mercy. It is true that this campaign may lead some of our brave army being thrown out of windows, but it will all be worth it when we reclaim our rightful place, at the centre of the universe. And the duvet.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Self mutilation, mummy mutilation - which is worse?

Lumpy likes to claw himself. Well, whether he actually likes it is a moot point -- he may not actually realize that the flailing hands that take chunks out of his head, face, eyeballs, and anything within flailing distance, actually belong to him. But like it or not, he certainly engages in this self mutilation with great enthusiasm, and it is a rare morning that he wakes up without a new injury for us to admire and coo over. He currently has so many little streaks of scab on his head that it looks as if we are engaging in tribal scarring. Which is, of course, another excellent visual display of our parenting brilliance. Ha! Envy us and our scabby headed child, you inferior baby raisers!

Charming though these bloody wounds look, I thought that maybe I should try to do something to stop them, in case he removed so many bits of flesh that his head dropped out of the 98th percentile. I considered scratch mitts, but he likes sucking on his fists and fingers (when he isn't using them to mutilate himself), so this seemed rather cruel. So then I thought I should try to cut his nails, maybe. What a concept!

I have tried to shorten his nails in the past. It's just that I've attempted to do this either by peeling them off, or by nibbling them with my teeth. Neither of which are terribly effective, or highly recommended by health professionals. I'd even attempted to file them down with an emery board, which was a nice idea in theory, but in practice all we ended up with was filed down fingertips, and no discernible effect on the nail.

So I decided to try the revolutionary concept of baby nail clippers. I attacked him on the changing table, clipping away with wild abandon, and even having a go at his big toe, where I had never ventured before. I was quite pleased with my handiwork, until I picked him up about half an hour later, and saw that there were spots of blood all over his t-shirt. I searched desperately for the site of his injury, before I discovered that the blood was coming from -- you guessed it -- his newly trimmed nails. Which I had cut too short. So short that they were bleeding. And the feet? I had entirely missed the nail, and clipped the end of his toe instead. In an attempt to prevent my baby from mutilating himself, I had mutilated him. Pure parenting brilliance.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Scaring the doctor

"Oh my God," said the doctor, as she opened Lumpy's nappy. "What...? What's he...?"

Now, the contents of Lumpy's nappies are legendary, it is true, and occasionally even frightening. But I would have thought a doctor, of all people, should have been able to handle them without exclamations of shock. But no, she was still blanching and stuttering, gazing down in horror at my sleepy, gurgling son.

I wondered what on earth he could have produced. An oil slick, perhaps, complete with distressed sea birds? A severed horse's head? Gingerly, I got to my feet, moved over to the examining table, and peered over the doctor's shoulder.

"The colours..." she said, pointing. "What have you been feeding him?"

I reached over and picked up the contents of the nappy, as she stared on, aghast.

My jazzy, funky nappy liner, with a background the colour of baby poo, and spots the colour of... well, things you don't really want coming out of your baby. Perfect for scaring doctors! Make sure you wear one to every appointment!

Monday, 13 September 2010

The idiocy of running

I did something really stupid yesterday. Not just my usual level of stupid, like dropping Lumpy on his head, walking into walls, or forgetting to put my trousers on. Oh no, this was proper stupid.

I went running. In fact, worse than that, I ran in a race. A race. Which also involved scrambling over fences. It really was astonishingly, ridiculously stupid.

I have indulged in running in the past, despite being almost comically unsuited to the pursuit. I am just not built for it, physically or psychologically. My legs do not like carrying me around at speed. I have several old war wounds, and have only half a knee left. The minute I inch above shuffling pace, I start making noises like an asthmatic, chain-smoking weasel stuck down a drain. It really is not a pretty sight. I have to be careful about doing it in public in case people are startled and call in the authorities to have me shot.

Because of all this, I have spent much of my life attempting to avoid running. Even at school I loathed it, and will never forget the shame of slogging round the last laps of a 1500m with my irritatingly skinny and bouncy friend finishing, then looping back and jogging along (well, briskly walking, really) beside me, chirping encouragement as I sweated and spat and cursed my way to the finish line, about 7 hours later.

It's not that I don't like physical exertion. In fact, I am a bit of an overcompetitive masochist, and genuinely like swimming length after length, squatting big fat weights, and, being an ex-rower, erging myself into sweaty, blistered oblivion. And I'm actually reasonably good at most of these things. The same pathetic overcompetitiveness that made me write that last line is probably what drives me back to running, time after time. Why am I so crap at it, even if I try really, really hard and do it a lot? I'd love to be good at it. It must feel wonderful to be able to run, quickly and effortlessly, rather than dragging yourself along wheezing and weeping and hating every step. I have dreams about being able to run -- about competing in fun runs (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and striding to the front of the pack, overtaking everyone -- in the same way that others have dreams about flying.

I seem to think that if I just keep at it, somehow I will defy biology, physiology, medical science, and logic to magically become this mythical runner. I even ran a half marathon once (though once again 'run' is a rather optimistic term here). That was two and a half years ago, and the experience was so traumatic that I haven't attempted even a jog since.

Until yesterday, that is, when I decided, for some deranged reason, that it would be a good idea to take part in the Only Fools Fun Run, over the eventing course at Blenheim Palace. It's only 5km, I thought. That's nothing. And the jumps? The giant great jumps that are made for horses to leap over, complete with ditches, and water, and spiky bits of brush? Easy. A little scramble. Fun, like they say. That's what it'll be. Fun.

It really wasn't fun. Or much of a run, to be honest.

Mr Badger streaked off at the start, being a person (sorry, furry little omnivore) who can actually run. Luckily, Sister Badger was there to drag me along, or I may well have fallen at the first, claimed to have a broken leg, and called for the tent and the man with the special gun. I started my wheezing and staggering act after about 50 metres, surprising even myself with my crapness. I actually found myself looking forward to the ridiculous fences, as they gave me a chance to have a lie down and a breather on the top, before someone else trampled on my head and forced me to fall off and shuffle on to the next one.

Somehow I made it round, despite having almost drowned in the lake (which was all of two inches deep), and been spiked up the bum by pretty much every bit of brush going. We were beaten by a dalmation, a cow, and the knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Though the geriatric hula girls were behind us, I believe (they were last seen hoisting one another over the second, after which point I went blind and saw no more).

And Lumpy (disappointingly absent from this entire post, I hear the Lumpy fans cry!)? He slept in his pram the whole way through, and thus failed to witness his mother's shocking display of inathleticism. Perhaps I can train him up to be a runner, so he can fulfill all my frustrated, futile, vain ambitions. Or perhaps I'll just become a baby. No one ever makes them run. Lucky bastards.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Lumpy vs Mog: The Battle of the Babies

Once upon a time in the badger household, the only baby was furry, round, and be-tailed. Once, she had been a cute, tiny kitten, with a head far bigger than her body, and a penchant for climbing curtains. She was called Mog, and her mummy loved her very much, letting her sleep under the duvet, and always making space on her lap for her darling little pusskins, even when she was on the loo:

Nearly four years on, and several giant sacks of cat food later, the little Mog who used to climb up mummy's trousers and into her arms had mutated into a furry sphere. She became so round that, while licking her bum, she would often topple over onto her back, and then not be able to get up again, thus:

But still her mummy loved her, and even as her pregnancy lump grew, she still made room for Mog on her lap, and tickled her big furry tummy, and helped her get back up when she got stuck like a flailing black and white beetle on her back. She was still the furry baby of the house.

And then Lumpy arrived.

Lumpy wasn't furry, and had a distinct lack of tail. He smelt of milk, rather than fish, and seemed utterly incapable of licking his own bum. He was clearly not a cat, and if he was, he was a crap one. And yet mummy and daddy seemed very interested in him. So much so that he was on their laps almost all of the time. Mog was perturbed.

Why had they brought this strange, noisy, hairless pink creature into the house? And how long was it going to stay? Mog initially showed her displeasure by refusing to sleep in her usual place on the bed, pointedly taking up residence on a dining room chair every night. But a week on, and Lumpy was still there, in his special bed right next to mummy and daddy, making his shocking noises at all hours of the night. Further action was clearly needed.

First, she considered eating James. Mog was good at eating. It was what she did best. But mummy and daddy never left Lumpy alone long enough for her to eat him effectively (he'd take a lot of chewing, she reckoned). Also, his head was unfeasibly large (98th percentile, dontcha know) and Mog didn't think she could get her mouth open that wide. And, crucially, he wasn't covered in gravy.

She decided not to eat him. Just yet.

Instead, she would ignore him. She moved back onto the bed, and refused to budge, even when Lumpy screamed as if his paw had got stuck in the catflap, or mummy kicked her in the head as she clambered in and out of bed at 2am. And, she started to reassert her territorial rights. She would reclaim the lap. Whenever Lumpy was sitting on mummy's lap (which was ridiculously often), Mog would go and sit there as well, ignoring the fact that there was no space for her, and simply pushing her furry body up against Lumpy's back, digging her claws into mummy's legs for good measure.

This worked reasonably well, until Lumpy brought out his secret weapon, vomiting lavishly all over Mog's tail.

This was clearly war.

Lumpy may have won the first battle, but Mog would not give up. If he was going steal her rightful place on the Mummy Lap, then she would simply invade his territory. One morning, while mummy was distracted tending to one of Lumpy's noxious smells (why he couldn't use the litter tray or the garden like any self respecting individual, Mog would never know), Mog entered the nursery and took up residence in the cot.

Okay, so Lumpy didn't actually sleep there yet, but still. It was a gesture. There was only space for one baby in this house. And that space was Mog shaped.

Yet mummy did not seem to understand the political message behind this protest, and simply turfed Mog out, shrieking and going on as she tended to. So Mog went back, and this time hid underneath the sheet. Ha ha haa. I is a cunning.

She was turfed out again. With even more hissing and shrieking. When Mog tried to claimed Lebensraum on the play mat, the same thing happened.

Mog had never been given a play mat of her own. Never. Or a psychedelic bee, for that matter. Her invasion was failing, and mummy and daddy seemed to be favouring this young upstart. It was all most distressing. Radical measures were called for.

As they seemed so responsive to Lumpy's shrieks and squawks, Mog would imitate them. At four in the morning, while mummy was yet again cuddling the usurper, Mog did her very best imitation of Lumpy crying. So effective was it, that mummy came running downstairs, to see who had deposited another baby in their living room. Yet as soon as she saw that it was Mog, she simply said something that sounded a bit like 'duck' (mmm, duck. In gravy.) and aimed a half-hearted kick at Mog. Imitation had also failed.

Becoming increasingly desperate, Mog decided to introduce a campaign of terror. She could not head up this campaign herself, of course. Oh no, she was too clever for that. Instead, she tracked down the cat known as 'The Shadow'. The cat so dark and secretive that no one had ever managed to capture her properly on film. Whenever a camera appeared, she morphed into a black, shapeless blob, barely identifiable as a cat.

It was the perfect disguise for the perfect terrorist. The Shadow struck early one morning, while mummy was still lazing in the bed, cuddling the Lumpy again. She streaked in like a bolt of black lightning, flying along the side of the bed, before slipping, falling, and knocking over the full pint of water by the bed. All of this was intentional of course. And not clumsiness and idiocy as mummy may claim.

Mog and The Shadow returned to their secret lair to plot further. From now on they would go underground, or, rather, under bed. They would strike again, in time. But what form that strike would take, or when it would happen, who could tell. Their chief weapon would be surprise. Fear and surprise. And a fanatical dedication to gravy.

And as for Lumpy? They would let him believe that they had reached a truce. For now.

Then they would have another go at eating him.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Snot fishing



I have invented a new sport. Like many of the greatest recreations, it was born out of necessity, yet has ultimately developed into a true art. It is the noble pursuit of Snot Fishing. It will no doubt be snapped up by the Olympic committee for London 2012, so don't forget that you heard of it here first. I'll be expecting royalties. And an appropriate statue. Made from snot. Of course.

One of the great design failings of babies is that they can't blow their noses. That and the explosive pooing, of course. And there's nothing more pathetic (and, truth be told, annoying) than a snorkerling, grunting, blocked up little thing at three in the morning. A solution needed to be found.

In the past, I am led to believe, people would actually physically suck their baby's nose clear. Using their mouth. Directly. Leading to a mouth full of baby snot. Now, much as I love my darling little Lumpy, there are limits.

Luckily we live in an advanced society, where there are tools for every job imaginable. And thus we discovered the Snot Sucker TM (actually, it's called the Baby Nose-Clear. Which is a very dull name, made worse by the addition of an unnecessary hyphen. (I am the official scourge of hyphens. One day I'll tell you that story, you lucky, lucky people. Person. Empty space.) The makers can use my far superior name, for a small fee. Just get in touch, guys).

We'd tried some inferior, sucky bulb thingies, but they were laughably ineffective, and just huffed air gently up Lumpy's nose, merely pushing it further into Lumpy's brain, rather than sucking it out. And then we found the Snot Sucker TM, and everything changed.

At first I wasn't convinced. The Snot Sucker TM works like this. There's a long tube, with a chamber at one end, with a little pipe you shove up into the baby's nose. This, essentially, has a Snot Catcher guard, which prevents you sucking the snot all the way along the tube and into your mouth. Phew! You pop the pipe up Snotbag's nose, pop the other end in your gob, and suck. Et voila!

Here is my solo, iPhone photo montage of it in action. I am an ace photographer, as you can see. And a borderline abusive parent. But only borderline, which is what matters.

(I'm not a mental. I'm not. Stop phoning Childline.)

Except we couldn't get anything out at first. We sucked and sucked, and Lumpy screamed and squealed in protest, and still - no snot.

But then, with hours of dedication and practice, we struck gold. Snotty gold.

One morning, I was staring up Lumpy's nose (we don't have much in the way of entertainment round these parts. As you may have guessed). I could see the snot, hanging there tantalizingly, teasing me, laughing at my helplessness. (It was. Really. You should have heard it). I seized the Snot Sucker TM, shoved it up Lumpy's snoz, and sucked like I'd never sucked before. And this is what I managed to catch:




You know what? That doesn't do it justice. It needs to be larger.

Now that's better. I swear to God, that thing was two inches long. I thought I'd sucked his brain out for a minute. And then I was filled with a swelling pride. I sent the photo to Mr Badger immediately. He advised me to kill it. Quickly. And get out of the house.

Since then, I've been addicted. Each morning I have a good look up Lumpy's nose, to see how the fishing looks that day. I usually make a pretty good catch, but nothing has ever rivalled that first, mighty example. The Moby Dick of snot. Now framed and displayed with pride above Lumpy's cot. You think I'm kidding?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Baby dunking

Lumpy had his first swimming lesson yesterday. I'd like to say he loved it, but he actually spent most of the lesson shouting. It wasn't crying, exactly - more an expression of general complaint and dissatisfaction: the baby equivalent of a strongly worded letter to the authorities. He was probably a bit cold - he was rather over optimistically dressed in just a swim nappy (though a very snazzy neoprene one - with special no-leak leg cuffs: practical and stylish! I'm thinking of getting one for myself), while the smart babies were all in full wetsuits. So the complaining was probably all aimed at his ill-prepared and neglectful parents. He was also quite disappointed at being only the second youngest baby in the group, trumped by an 8-week old who rather impressively slept through much of the lesson (obviously drunk).

He also clearly felt superior to much of the class content, sneering openly at the 'Splish Splash' song and accompanying actions ('round in a circle and UP in the air!' etc.), and kept asking me when we were going to get onto the butterfly stroke and springboard diving. However, he cheered up considerably when we got to the dangerous, exciting part - the underwater plunge of death! The instructor went round the class dunking every baby under the water, then depositing them in their petrified parent's arms, telling them to SMILE at all times, rather than staring in horror at their blinking, flailing child. When it came to Lumpy's turn, he face-planted himself in the water before the instructor got a chance to dunk him, as documented in this youtube video. Thatta boy!

Next time he'll be doing his surfer dude impression in his trendy new wetsuit, and hopefully won't complain so loudly and vocally. As long as they get to do backflips and have a holding-your-breath-underwater competition. And no more of that Splish Splash nonsense.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

In which Lumpy is exposed to sex and violence (and loves it)

The arty, trendy, foreign-film showing cinema in Oxford has a weekly screening just for parents with babies under one. It is, rather forbiddingly, called 'the Big Scream'. Lumpy took me there a couple of weeks ago to see an appropriately gentle animated French film, The Illusionist.

To my complete surprise, it was a deeply relaxing experience. Lumpy fed contentedly for about half an hour, and then fell asleep in my arms, only waking as the credits were rolling. There were a few minor outbursts from other babies - just mini squawking fits, and wahwahmmma-mmaa-mmmaaa's, really - nothing too distracting, and since the film was largely silent, the surrounding noise-level barely mattered.

I left feeling like I'd done an hour's yoga followed by a nice doze. I vowed to go to every showing that I could - cinema is, after all, the thing they say you miss the most after having a baby, so this seemed the best chance to get my fix without having to use up valuable Lumpy escaping time. Then I saw what was showing the next week.

The Girl Who Played With Fire. Part 2 of the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson's notoriously violent, dark trilogy of novels.

This presented a few issues. To be exact:

1) Part 2. I hadn't read any of the books, or seen the first film. Another new mum told me that I really shouldn't see the second film without having read or seen the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as this would clearly lad to death, destruction, famine, disaster, and random things exploding whenever I walk past. Thus began a rather desperate and sleep-deprived attempt to read a 533 page novel in four days. In the past, this wouldn't have been too much of an issue. Books are good. I like books. Books are my thing. However, since the arrival of Lumpy, books and I have become sadly estranged. Lumpy is strangely jealous of these papery rivals, and starts quacking indignantly whenever he picks up the scent of pages turning. I used to read a lot before bed, but now bed=sleep. Or rather bed=place to attempt sleep while baby grunts and growls and guuhhh-guuhh-snaaarrrks 10 inches from your head like a herd of rutting warthogs. I tried. I really, really tried, but reading just wasn't happening. Even replacing my usual breastfeeding watching of daytime trash TV with clumsy one-handed reading only allowed me to get to page 134 (and end up with much squirted and regurgitated milk all over myself and everything within a few metres range).

2) Swedish. Hence, subtitles. Which in one way=good, as there's no need to hear anything going on, when all of the babies in the audience start howling because of 3) below. Not so good when having to constantly look down and try to work out why your baby is distressed because of 4) below, thus missing vital elements of the plot. Which you already don't particularly understand because of 1) above.

3) Notoriously violent. Which included lots of jumpy unexpected attack moments, leading to leaping of mothers, causing the startling of babies. Result=Big Scream. Hurrah, cinema. See where you were going with the name, there.

4) Dark. This is, very literally, a dark film. I couldn't see a bloody thing, which meant Lumpy got a nipple in the eye more often than in the mouth.

Also, lesbian sex. My son got to see lesbian sex at two months old. He was riveted. God help us in 16 years time.