Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Viva Espana!

Whoops! I appear to have forgotten I've got a blog. Sorry about that, lost and confused wanderers of the Interwebs. I'll try to do better in future. Oh bugger it, let's be honest, I'll probably not post again till 2013. In fact, I'll probably not even manage to post this. In which case, you won't be reading it... and... and... nope, sorry, lost myself there.

I went on holiday! On a plane and everything. And, this time, I actually took Mr Badger and Lumpy. What a dedicated wife and mother I am.

And you know what? It was good. I have to admit, I was filled with some trepidation at the thought of this trip.

[Aaaaaaaaaaand, I was right. I wrote this first bit about two weeks ago and have utterly failed to revisit it since. I am a big slice of crap pie. But hey! Here I am to write another few paragraphs before failing to finish yet again. Ho hum tiddly bum.]

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, trepidation. Or, putting it another (more accurate) way, I was being a right old grumpy cow, moaning about how holidays weren't really holidays with a baby... grump grump grizzle woe is me etc. Because it's so, so tough looking after a monster beasty like this:

am not monster beasty. how verys dare you. am clearli cute adorables little fluffpot.

And also... confession time. We took not one, but two (count 'em) Badger Grandmas with us. Two! To take one Badger grandparent on holiday may be regarded as sensible; to take both seems like greed. And possibly incompetence. But by 'eck, if we were going to get on a plane and invade a country with the Lumpybeast in tow, then we were going to need reinforcements. And we wanted their luggage allowance, too.

So, to cut a long story short (too late!), off we all marched to Luton airport at some ungodly hour to stand in various queues for many, many hours, before being shoehorned into a Sleazyjet seat with our knees folded comfortably behind our ears, and an x-large baby inadequately restrained on our laps.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. Lumpy loved the plane, and watching the clouds through the window (and the sack of toys and endless snacks we bribed him with every 3.2 seconds). And here's something - trying to entertain/wrestle/hog-tie a wiggly 15-month old in a space the size of a shoebox certainly makes time fly.

So before we knew it, we were ensconced in our apartment, which we set about babyproofing to the best of our abilities by dragging furniture around to block lethal staircases and barricading gaps with sandbags. And then I began - shock, horror - to enjoy my holiday.

I lazed, dear readers, by the pool. I read books. Books! Those papery things with black marks all over them that I used to be quite familiar with. I dozed. Because, you see, when you have two grandmas at hand, you hardly ever have to actually see your own son. Apart from attempting to drown him every now and then, of course:

is freezings. flesh is dyings. feets hav actualli dropping of.

noooooooo! dont dunks me againz mummies. promis i be good boy.

if i canz just. get. to. the. sides...

ahhh barf. iz lovelies.

Lumpy was also particularly impressed with the Spanish-town-square-as-social-hub notion, as it gave him lots of opportunities for harassing wildlife and generally tarting about - which are, of course, two of his favourite things. It also meant he got to eat two dinners - one in the apartment at his normal dinner time, and then whatever he fancied stealing from our plates later on - and got to stay up late too. Lumpy result! As long as he was facing the square he was usually quite happy to sit and watch the mopeds and horses (yes) go by, while we shoved deep-fried aubergine into our gobs and poured San Miguel down or gullets. But then he would be set free, and would rampage around the place, flirting with old men and trying to get the big kids to let him join in their games. He was in heaven.

In fact the main problem was wrestling him into submission to get him to come home.

noooooooooo. they wont take me alives!

Here I demonstrate the upside-down crusher grip. Highly effective when combined with tickling and biting of the shins. Which is just how we got him on the plane to go back home.

And I'm going to stop right there so that I actually post this post and this blog doesn't just curl up and die. See you soon. Realli realli promis.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Walk this way

Well, hello.

Contrary to appearances I did not perish on my foolhardy attempt to swim around the whole of Croatia. True, there was a sticky moment when I was arrested doing butterfly on the main road through Split, but then that's by far my weakest stroke, so it was always going to cause problems.

In fact, I had a rather brilliant time. I was accompanied on the trip by the marvellous Cake of Good Hope, who I have to say, is a holiday companion of the first order. If you ever get a chance to go on a sojourn with her, you should - quite literally - leap at the chance. Leap, I say! I hear she can be hired for all manner of trips, at the very reasonable rate of four ice creams and six large beers a day. Bargain.

And how did I cope with being away from the Lumpster? Rather well, I'm ashamed to admit. I actually didn't find myself missing the thrill that comes with opening each nappy (will there be poo? Will it be squishy or firm? Will it have escaped and require seven wipes to clear the resulting poo-nami? And so on), nor, strangely, did I yearn to be woken at 4am by an mysteriously inconsolable infant who still can't bloody talk and tell me what on earth is wrong.

In fact, I switched back to being a normal person with alarming rapidity and ease. This clearly makes me an evil witch of a mother, barely deserving of the name. But hey ho, I got to swim in sparkling clear water, eat the weight of my own head in ice cream every single day, laze in the sun, sup on many beers, and generally have a week of being delightfully responsible for no one but myself (and only at a very minimal level on that front). It was, truly, glorious.

I reported just before I went that Lumpy had learned to walk. Well, we thought he had. He took several steps, unaided and unsupported, using just his feet, and performed this exploit several times. I believe that's generally considered to be walking. I was fully expecting him to be running around by the time I got back from Croatia, and quite possibly being signed up for the 4x100m Great British sprint relay team for 2012.

But no. On my return he was still scuttling about on all fours. Apparently he'd refused to walk at all while I was away. This may be some form of bizarre baby-logic, by which he associated walking unaided with his mother deserting him. I expect the repercussions will cost us thousands in counselling at some point in the not-too-distant future. But who can honestly say they haven't mentally and physically scarred their child in some horrific, albeit unintentional, way? Eh? Well then. I rest my case.

Anyway, he's obviously decided that I'm not about to leap on a plane for another week of solo joy-time (more's the shame), and has - a good six weeks after his first steps - decided that walking might not be too bad actually, and there might even be some benefits to using this mode of transportation. For one thing, it's easier to carry food in your hand when you're walking, as it tends to get a bit squashed and mashed into the carpet if you attempt to crawl with it. (I am considering selling our floor coverings as some form of abstract art: presenting them as a radical comment on the excesses of Western culture (with a subtext examining the vagaries of a nearly 15-month-old's digestion.)

It's very odd seeing him toddling about on his hind legs, as if he's a proper person, and not some kind of noisy and demanding pet. One day, I suppose we'll have to start asking his opinions on things, and I might even have to stop dressing him up as a cow and balancing random objects on his head for entertainment.

But that day - heaven be praised - is still very, very far away.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


I am going on holiday. As in me. On my own. Without the Lumpy. Or the Mr Badger.


I am going to swim around Croatia. Right around it. Even the landy bits. I like a challenge.

I am currently in the airport, being awed by the people who think a pint of lager at 4.30am is a grand idea. They are steadfastly refusing to give my flight a gate, as is usual for Sleazyjet. I might get to Croatia by Tuesday if I'm lucky.

And guess who just learned to walk? And eat cucumbers whole?

Oh my good lord, I'm going to miss him.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A plague on both your houses

And, lo, they did mightily displease the great Baby God, and brought down His wrath upon them. And the Baby God did smite them heartily, bringing down plague upon plague upon plague upon their filthy unworthy heads. And there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the Baby God did laugh to see it, and sent down another plague. THE END.

Let's just say it's been a tough few weeks. Lumpy had had a cough for, oh, the past six centuries or so. It just went on, and on, and on. Cough hack choke wake-up scream. Cough cough cough gaaaaaah. Wah. We took him to the doctor, who reassured us that it wasn't terminal, patted us on the slightly deranged heads, and sent us on our way. It did start to get better. A bit.

And then Lumpy moved nursery. Moved to the brilliant, shiny-new, super-posh, closer-to-work and all-round-brilliant new nursery. Which turned out to be just as much of a pit of pestilence as the previous one. What is it with small children and disgustingness? They're just filthy. And they have to lick everything. Like other filthy small children. And if there's a disease going around they just have to gobble it up, because there's nothing more fun than being ill. It always makes children so cheerful, hacking and snotting and puking and grizzling. It's more fun than swings and puppies and bubbles all rolled into one!

In other words, the cough came back. But this was cough plus, the new and improved version. People would stop and stare at us, wondering why we were taking our plague-baby out on the streets to infect the innocent.

But we didn't just have a cough. Oh no, that would have been far too easy. We also had the most hideous, weeping, scabby nappy rash, that just would not heal, even when we were changing Lumpy's nappy every hour and slathering on entire pots of Sudocrem, Bepanthan, lard, and anything else lubricating we could lay our hands on. And there's nothing that makes you feel more like a brilliant parent than having the nursery report that your child's arse has been bleeding. Marvellous!

And then one day at work I had a phone call...

Don't worry - he wasn't dead. He'd just done a big squirty poo. Which isn't that unusual, as far as I'm concerned, but is the big social no-no at the nursery, apparently. He was banished, effective immediately.

So, in an instant, I became that parent. You know, the one who's always dashing out of the office in the middle of the day to pick up their ailing spawn, never to return. I really didn't want to be that parent, but hey ho, I'm steadily learning that there isn't actually, and any other sort.

Though I moaned and wailed and gnashed my teeth at the deep cosmic unfairness of it all at the time, this nursery exclusion period was actually pretty vital. We took Lumpy and his hacking cough, and his squirty, scabby bum, to the doctor and got us some of them gooooood drugs. Because drugs, as we all know, are the cure to all the world's woes and ills, and we should just take more of them. And a drugged baby is a happy baby.

And, lo! The wonders of modern science and witchcraft (aka bright yellow banana-flavoured antibiotics and lots of naps in his own cot and not having to go to evil so-called-nursery-baby-prison-place) did smite those filthy germs, and the baby was cured of his blindness and threw away his crutch and did walk again! Well, the cough got better at least. And the snivelling parents did sleep for more than two hours in a row, and they did weep with joy and make sacrifices to the benevolent, loving Baby God.

Then Lumpy went back to nursery and two days later he had suspected German measles.

So I quit my job to became an agnostic wandering goat herd who shouts at clouds.

Monday, 4 July 2011

One years (and five day)

So. I madez it. I survives one whole years (and five day. Okays, iz late. Us one-year-and-five-day-olds are very busie, you nose).

The burfday woz goods. PRESENCE x milllllllionz.

Lumpie like presence. ALOT.

Eatinge thems in particulars. Nomnomnoms.


Note pleezed expression. Lumpylikecar! Also: hairs. V carfully styled. Looking this gud take work, you no.

And what great treats did Boob Lady and Daddybadger have in stores to celebrate this great occasionals?

Henley Rowing Thing.

They took Lumpies to Henley Rowing Thing last yearz. Lumpy not impressed.

Felt same this yearz too reelly. Two wordz: BOAR RINGS.

Mind ewes, did discover this stuf called Pimms. Iz juicy.


Mmm, iz tastie.

Wot? Drinkin problem, you sez? No problem. This bottle iz empties, by the weigh. Just sayin.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

You don't know what you've got till it's gone...

And what, I hear you cry, of Lumpy? Enough about your scabs and excesses of arse, woman! We come here to hear about the baby, dagammit! (Do you regularly say 'dagammit', dear readers? I like to think you do.)
Lumpy's fine.


Oh, you want more, do you? Well, I'm a working woman now, you know. I only get a chance to take him out of his drawer once or twice a day. Just for an airing.

Actually, Lumpy is lovely. He has, in fact, maliciously and viciously become lovelier and lovelier in the build up to me going back to work, just to make me miss him even more. He has made his already deliciously fluffy head even fluffier, simply to taunt me with the fact that said head is no longer available to me 24 hours a day. He has developed yet more rakish expressions involving his eyebrows (such as raising one quizzically, whilst flashing a trademark Lumpygrin). He is making ever more word-like babbles, tantalizing me with the fact that his first witty sentence is surely mere days away. And he's pulling up on, climbing, and grabbing everything he can get his grabby mitts on, before shoving said everything into his gob, be it cat, cat food, carpet, passing human, herds of wildebeest, kitchen appliances, or even, occasionally, food.

Actually, that last bit makes me rather pleased to be back at work.

But the rest of it... ah, I do find myself waxing sentimental over the fact that I got to spend all day every day in the company of this frankly marvellous little person. And kick myself over the fact that I clearly did not appreciate the enormity of this privilege, considering I now get to spend all day, every day (well, four days a week) in the company of a couple of computer screens and a whole lot of words. Which are a whole lot less cute, charming, and fascinating, let me tell you.

But such, I believe, is the tragedy of human existence (oops, getting a bit deep here... don't worry, I'll shove in a reference to poo before the end, surely). We are incapable of appreciating anything we've got until it's threatened or already gone: be it health, youth, beauty, freedom, anything. Not being able to appreciate things you've already got is not a failing, as far as I see it. It's just a fact of being human. Which is why it's utterly pointless telling people who are about to have a baby that they should 'appreciate the peace and quiet while they can', and 'enjoy all that sleep'. But don't get me going on that, or we'll be here all day. And I'm sure you've got better things to do.

Or maybe it's just me who's crap at living in the moment. Maybe everyone else is perfectly capable of appreciating what they have and where they are, and don't waste their time wishing it away for a semi-mythical future. If so, then please ignore me, and continue about your enviably enlightened existence. Well done you. Don't worry about me. I'll be off rubbing my face on Lumpy's head and trying not to wish that he could tell me exactly what's going on in it. Right now.

(oops, almost forgot. Poo poo, big stinky baby poo. There.)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

In which yet more evidence of my twattery emerges

I've always been open about the fact that I am a bit of a twat. However, recently I outdid myself. It was truly, deeply, magnificently spaztastic. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

I started work properly last week (hence the lack of posting lately... excuses, excuses, scrape, grovel, please forgive me, sole remaining reader... oh, there goes a tumbleweed). The second day, I was cycling in, feeling rather proud of myself for managing to leave the house almost on time, wearing a proper bra and everything. Unfortunately, I failed to wear proper trousers, and approximately 30 seconds away from the house I realized that said trousers were rapidly working their way down my arse, exposing some undoubtedly greying saggy old knickers and a fair acre of bum flesh. Nice!

Now, I am ever eager to protect the public from sights that may cause them to tear their own eyes out while running round in circles screaming in horror. So I decided to try and hike the failing trousers back up and over the exposed arse of shame. I took one hand off the handlebars to do this, and wiggled about, the better to get the rebellious waistband back up to its rightful place. Unfortunately, I began to go down hill at this point (both literally and figuratively). Feeling the bike speed up as I simultaneously wobbled all over the road, I grabbed desperately at the brakes. Unfortunately (#2) the grabbing was a little too desperate, and resulted in my front wheel locking completely. Following the laws of the physical universe - specifically that tricky little so-and-so gravity - this led to me shooting straight over the handlebars in a magnificent road-bound swan dive. I then proceeded to leave a sizeable amount of my own skin on the tarmac, along with what still remains of my pride.

If anyone was watching at the time, the whole incident would have looked utterly bizarre and really fairly amusing. Fortnately (whoo-hoo! There's a first time for everything), the one piece of luck was that there wasn't a soul around to witness my magnificent spaztwattery. So I'm telling you all about it now, so you can recreate the glorious scene in your minds, and have a good guffaw. Just don't try to visualize the arse. You have been warned.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Table manners

Today at lunch I burped so loudly and disgustingly that it made Lumpy cry.

I am so very, very proud of myself. As a mother, and as a person.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mummy stalking

I need your help, dear readers. On a question of etiquette, no less.

Me and the Lumpy went to the supermarket today. I've always enjoyed supermarket shopping, because I like spending money and I like food, so it's a win win in my eyes. Adding a Lumpy into the mix just adds to the fun, particularly now he's sitting up in the proper big boy seat in the trolley, as it allows him to pull stuff off the shelves while simultaneously reaching back into the trolley to mangle what's already in there. I tend to get a bit distracted by this and end up reeling around the store and crashing into innocent bystanders. At one point we almost overturned another mum and her baby - a smiley little girl who looked a couple of months younger than Lumpy. I yelped an apology before the kamikaze trolley dragged me towards the chocolate section (I had no control of it, honest).

When we got to the checkout, the same mum and baby were in at the till beside us. The babies clocked one another immediately and started flirting, big styleee. They were sqeeeeeeeeeing, and bouncing, and flapping, and virtually proposing marriage on the spot. So extreme was their reaction that the checkout ladies and other customers even started commenting. Sadly, this blossoming relationship had to end before Lumpy had a chance to ask his new girlfriend out to dinner, as the other mum finished paying, told her baby to say goodbye (Lumpy waved on the command of 'wave': she was suitably awed and amazed at his amazingness), and headed off. We followed shortly after, once I had finished crushing my eggs and avocados at the bottom of the bags under my potatoes and cans, packing genius that I am. As we walked out, Lumpy kept looking over his shoulder, wondering where his new girlfriend had gone.

And this is where it all gets a bit stalky.

As I finished loading up and wrangling Lumpy into his carseat, I noticed that the other mum was getting into her car just a few down the row from us. We pulled out just after her, and ended up following her out. Slightly bizarrely, we kept taking the same turns, until she eventually went through some traffic lights that were changing and escaped me (I considered just jumping the red in a squeal of tyres, but thought that might frighten the poor woman. If she wasn't already terrified enough by the deranged loon in the beaten up Ford Escort who'd been tailing her since she left Tescos).

And then, about 100 metres from out house, I saw her. She was parked on a narrow bit of road right outside a house, unloading her car in a slightly frenzied fashion. I considered stopping and yelling inanely at her through the car window, but managed to restrain myself, and continued on round the corner to our house.

But then I thought... Now I know where her house is. We're virtually neighbours (sort of. ish. Run with me here). Our babies seemed to really, really like each other.

So what I'm wondering is, would it be unspeakably weird and stalkerish to put a note through her door, explaining how I followed her home (ok, maybe not presenting it in that light...), and asking if she'd like to get the babies together at some point to continue their gurgling romance?

That would be odd and disturbing, and I really shouldn't do it, right?

Or would it be a friendly and socially acceptable thing to do? After all, those babies really hit it off. This may be Lumpy's future wife we're talking about? Who am I to deny my son his only chance of happiness?

I honestly have no idea on this one. Lumpy has not only sucked out my brain, he's taken my sense of the appropriate as well. Naked cartwheeling in the restaurant at work, anyone? Yes?

So what, dear, helpful, wise readers, should I do? Do tell, please.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A round of applause

Babies have this way of pushing you to extremes. They let you get to the very edge of despair and exhaustion, turning you into a snotty, sobbing heap on the floor, virtually dead. But only virtually. For they are clever little beggars, these baby-type people. They know exactly how far they can go before you'll crack completely, and end up running down the street, biting the neighbours, and shimmying up lampposts. Push you to that point, and you won't be capable of making their breakfast, scraping poo off the ceiling, or dancing like a psychotic monkey for their entertainment.

And they certainly don't want that. So, just as you're about to see if you can fit a baby down the waste disposal, they rein you back in with something so enchanting, delightful, and thoroughly wondrous, that you instantly forget the sleepless nights, the endless grizzling, the poo, the chaos, the lot. Poof, just like that, you're a cooing simpleton again, a happy slave.

It happened many, many months ago, with the elusive first smile. And, just last week, it happened again.

We were on holiday down in Dorset, back at the fantastic house we stayed in back in November, in fact. Lumpy wasn't sleeping well. In fact, he was sleeping the worst he pretty much ever has, waking up every twenty minutes through the whole night. It really was exquisite torture. Initially, we thought it might just be being in a new place, and also getting disturbed by us being in the same room, blundering around getting undressed and daring to turn over in the world's squeakiest bed. But then he started to get odd. He wasn't smiling. Even more weirdly, he wasn't really eating. We knew something was really wrong when he turned his nose up at an Organix Carrot Crispy (aka Giant Baby Wotsits). This was deeply worrying. Normally, Lumpy starts bouncing up and down in a frenzy of squealing excitement at the mere sight of the packet, and will devour a hundredweight without pausing for breath. He was clearly gravely ill.

Unfortunately, as time went on, this diagnosis seemed more and more likely. He would suddenly become burning hot, and have unexplained, disturbingly intense crying fits. Nothing could cheer him up or distract him. He was exhausted, but unable to sleep. He spat and choked whenever we tried to give him painkiller, in a desperate attempt to lower his fever. Then, he started shaking all over, and I got properly scared. We called the doctor.

Of course, as soon as we had secured an appointment, we got a spoonful of Calpol down him, and he started to chirp up. The doctor took one look at our sturdy, feisty brick of a baby, and clearly concluded we were loony, hysterical parents. Even so, he gave him a thorough going over and reassured us that there was nothing mortally wrong. We expressed concern that he wasn't eating. He paused for a millisecond, before saying:

"He's not fat... but he's got good reserves. What I'm saying is, it wouldn't do him that much harm to go a day without food."

Thanks for that, doc. Our Lumpy, fatty fatty boom boom, Mr Porky McPorkster.

That night, we were giving him a bath, still feeling rather shell-shocked at our never-ever-ill baby being ill, and feeling rather trepidatious at the night that lay ahead. We were talking idly, and the word 'clap' happened to come up. Almost instantly, Lumpy started to clap his hands together.

Now, we knew that Lumpy could clap. Man, that's old news. We just thought he was copying us clapping when he was clapping. We had no idea that he recognised the word clap. But he does. He knows a word.

We were truly, utterly, awed and amazed. He knew a word. He recognized language. In that moment, we remembered his undeniable baby genius status. We didn't care if other people's babies had been reciting Shakespeare soliloquies since they were 6 weeks old. Our baby knows the word clap. He hears it, he does it. Completely, utterly brilliant.

Am cleverist babie eva. Clapclapclapclapclap.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Creepy crawly

For a long time, I was convinced that Lumpy was never going to crawl. He had no interest in crawling, I told myself. It's undignified. Babyish. He would go directly from sitting to walking, with none of this crawling nonsense in between.

This assumption was based in part upon Lumpy's utter lack of interest in mobility. For months, he had an almost Zen-like calm, and would sit happily in the same place for long stretches of time, playing contentedly with whatever was within arm's reach. I worried, initially, that I was responsible for this inertia by putting all his most desirable toys near to him, and that, as a concerned mother, I should actually be encouraging him to move by leaving them tantalizingly out of reach. But no. Even when I placed the mirror-earred rabbit (best for chewing and admiring oneself in) or the plastic castle, complete with king, queen, knight, and wizard (also very good for chewing and generally flinging about) out of reach, he still just sat there. Initially, he would flail towards the distant toys to check that he definitely could not reach them, and then he would just sit. And think. About all the concertos he would compose just as soon as he got his hands on a piano, no doubt. Or a new theory of quantum time travel. Or boobs, possibly.

But let's be honest here. It was not just Lumpy's seeming delight in being static that made me plump for the 'he'll go straight to walking theory'. The real reason was competitive mothering.

I try not to be one of those awful mothers. I really do. I try so hard not to compare Lumpy to other babies; not to freak out when they're performing backflips and tightrope walking while Lumpy sits there drooling in the corner. I strive not to boast about all of his many, amazing achievements, like the three or four giant poos he is capable of producing on a daily basis; the speed with with he can mainline raisins (hand to mouth: 0.734 milliseconds); or his psychic ability to puke all over himself only when I have left the house without a muslin. Astonishing though these skills are, I nobly maintain my silence around other mothers. I don't want them driven so wild with jealousy that they throw their own babies in skips, do I?

But when the crawling issue comes up, I always, always find myself saying, 'oh, I think he'll just go straight on to walking, you know. He just doesn't seem interested in crawling. I'm sure he could crawl, if he wanted to. But he's so much more interested in standing. Very advanced he is, really... Have I told you about his poos? Look, I saved one from earlier...'

So imagine my surprise when this happened.

Ha. wotch me defie you alls withs my unexpected crawlings. Particularly when nakedz.

So. Crawling. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that it is not the most coordinated, elegant crawling that has ever been performed. In fact, it is more reminiscent of a wounded soldier desperately dragging himself from the battlefield. But still. My little Lumpy can crawl.

Walking? Pah. Completely overrated.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Working girl

I had my first day back at work this week. And it was... surprisingly enjoyable. I feel as if I shouldn't admit that, in case it exposes me as the evil baby-hating witch that I clearly am, but there you go. It was refreshing to actually use my brain for the first time in many, many months (dust actually fell out of my ears as the rusty old cogs started to grind again), and also deeply satisfying to be able to sit down and focus on one thing for more than half an hour, knowing I wasn't going to be interrupted by a demanding bratling at any moment. That's what I think is the most draining aspect of looking after a baby - the fact that you are constantly on call, and the minute you start trying to do something, thinking that surely they'll stay asleep for the next fifteen minutes... waaaaaaaaaaaah, there it is. They know, I swear. They know when you're poised over a mixing bowl, having just embarked on an overambitious culinary project; when you're naked in the shower with shampoo in your eyes and a razor about to slash your ankles open; when you've finally closed your eyes to attempt some sleep; when you're attempting to write a witty and entertaining blog po...

Sorry. Had to rush off there and fluff Lumpy's hair. Where was I? Oh, yes... work, right? A good thing, yes?

So I went into work, wearing proper trousers and not covered in baby sick and everything. It was only a KIT day (which sadly doesn't mean I got to play with the car from Knight Rider, but is rather more boringly a Keeping In Touch day. I do think a lot could be gained by allowing post-natal women to hang out with The Hoff, and will be suggesting it to the relevant authorities at the first opportunity. But for now, it just means you get to go into work for up to 10 days without ending your maternity leave. Yaaaaaaaaawn. I'd look dead good in a Baywatch bikini, too. Honest.)

Work had not changed much in my absence. This is because I work somewhere that hasn't really changed for the last few centuries, and darn well won't be changing for the next few hundred, thank you very much. They just about accept computers, but that's it. I managed to log in to my own magic haunted typing box (after about 45 minutes and a few calls to the surly nerds in technical support), eventually hunted down my email, and then spent a pleasant few hours pushing some words around, putting them on a spreadsheet, then taking them off again. It was just like old times. And no one demanded to suck on my boob or expected me to scrape and flick their poo down the toilet. Remarkable!

Lumpy was being looked after by Grandma Badger, who he clearly loves far more than me, because she pays him lots of attention and will happily sit cuddling him all day and not waste time doing pointless stuff like washing nappies and cooking dinner. He was utterly underwhelmed when I came home, and seemed to think I'd just been in the loo for a most of the day.

So it all went rather well. I'm aiming to do a day a week until I go back properly at the end of May. At which point it will all go horribly wrong because Lumpy will have to go to - choke, sob, waaaaaaah (that's all me, not him) - nursery, where they will clearly poke him with sticks and generally torture him. And I will sit at my desk and alternately weep and drool onto my keyboard until it short-circuits and burns the whole office to the ground. Which will frankly serve me right for thinking I can have it all.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Weighty issues

I porked up good and proper when I was pregnant. It was slightly bizarre - every time I stepped on the scales, there it was, like magic: another pound. One for each week of pregnancy, in fact. A big, lardy 40 pound in total. Luckily, my midwife didn't weigh me at any point, or she would probably have had me harpooned immediately. I even managed to get through my ridiculous hospital admission without being weighed at any point, which was quite an achievement, since they seemed hell bent on testing me and the in vitro Lumpy in every way possible, strapping us to any machines they could lay their hands on (I'm sure I was tethered to a vacuum cleaner for a couple of hours at one point).

This was all very lucky, as I have a near psychotic phobia of being weighed. I am, putting it politely, a solid unit, and weigh a fair old heft, even without an invading giant fetus and all the trimmings. I like to think that a good amount of this poundage is muscle, what with my glorious past as an international athlete, but to be honest a lot of it is now simply lard. And cake. Lots and lots of cake.

Though fairly horrifying, my weight is generally pretty stable, so it was unnerving in the extreme to experience this steady continuous gain. The thing is, I didn't eat any more than usual (I eat a great deal usually, so it wasn't really necessary), and I stayed just as active as I always was: cycling to work and back every day, gymming, weightlifting, swimming, shark wrestling, unarmed combat, etc. etc. In fact, so active did I stay, that strangers felt compelled to voice their concern about my level of activity and its effect on the unborn Lumpy. I punched them in the face, naturally. Then ate them. I needed the extra protein, what with all the steroids I was taking to maintain my Miss Universe physique.

I knew that I needed to put on a certain amount of weight in pregnancy - there's a bloody person growing inside you, for god's sake. And persons are big and heavy. But 40 pounds? I was guessing that Lumpy wasn't going to weigh 40 pounds. If he was, I was in big, big trouble, and a natural birth was probably out of the question. So for some reason, my body had decided I clearly wasn't porky enough already and it needed to lay down a great deal of extra lard. And there was nothing I could do about it. I genuinely believe that I could have eaten nothing but a lettuce leaf every day, and still put on a pound a week. By some form of fat osmosis. Probably.

I got quite worked up about it, to be honest, convinced I would be stuck with an extra 20 pounds (at least) for the rest of my life. Probably entirely on my arse. And I have enough trouble getting my arse into trousers (and through doors) as it is. A future of wobbly, strained leggings awaited me. Woe, doom, and gloom.

Or not, as it turned out. Because after the Lumpy emerged, the exact opposite happened. On the day of his illustrious birth, I lost a stone, so that was 14 pound taken care of. Then every day after that, another pound was gone. It was like magic, particularly because by now I really was eating my body weight in pick and mix, chocolates, and CAKE pretty much constantly. But still, the weight came off. By two weeks, I'd lost 28 of the 40 pounds, and started to wonder whether this magnificent loss would continue, and I should be contacting modelling agencies to establish my career as a waif-like supermodel. Sadly, that was not to be, as after that I started to drop a mere pound a week, then every two weeks. By about five months, the lot was gone, and I was back to pre-pregnancy weight. And all by the power of sweets and sitting on the couch. Magic!

Which is why it makes me bluster and blather with rage when you get bollocksy advice like this gets broadcast, as if pregnant women are stupid fatties who need to be told not to mainline Big Macs the minute they get a positive test. Because, if my example is anything to go by, you don't have much choice about the weight you gain when you're pregnant. You can be as active as you like, weigh yourself as often as you can, and eat perfectly sensibly, and the weight will still go on. Then it'll come off. Probably. All part of the wonderful mentalness that is baby spawning.

Having said all that, I'm still not 100% sure I'm the same shape I was before this whole nonsense took place. Having a baby around sort of limits your gym time. So I've signed up to do a two-mile swim in Windermere in June, and a one-mile one in the Thames in July. Hopefully I won't die. At least the lard will help to keep me afloat. As long as their aren't any whalers around...

Thursday, 31 March 2011


Today, I am old. Very, very old. A whole third of a century, virtually. Mind you, 33 is one of my favourite numbers, so this year is sure to be a good one.

I'm also a bit squiffy, so um, ignore me, probably.

And now, a gratuitous Lumpy shot:

Bath! Fishy! Rah!

That is all.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Baby dunking: The Next Generation

We first started trying to drown Lumpy at 9 weeks. It is testament to his ability to hold his breath that he's still here today.

At first he was a bit unsure about the whole experience, then he seemed to merely tolerate it, and then went through a period of actively hating anything to do with the swimming pool.

Now, however, he can't get enough of the wet stuff, as this rather ridiculously grinny video shows.

Please try to ignore the zitty loon who's wrestling with him. Nice chin spot, Mrs Badger.

(For comparison purposes, this is the video taken in his first lesson... all together now - awwwwwwww)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

9 months in, 9 months out

Today, my lovely Lumpy, you are 9 months old. That's very old indeed. Virtually grown up, really. I expect you'll be wanting to borrow the car keys and stay out all night drinking with your friends soon. Well you can't. Not till you're a year, at least. Call me strict, but there have to be limits.

Good blogging mummies, I know, write special posts to their babies every month. As far as I can remember, the last one I did was at 12 weeks. Um, sorry about that. I'll do better in the future, promise.

It's fairly amazing how far you've come since eighteen months ago, when Mr Badger refused to believe me when I emerged from the toilet and waved this in his face:

Before long, I looked like a python that had swallowed a pig without chewing:

And then I was mooing in a car park, just before you plopped out into the the waiting hands of a conveniently placed midwife:

And then you spent the next 9 months eating everything that came near you (BOOB, cats, household electronics, soft furnishings, parents, tables, etc. etc.), leading to the mighty figure that is MEGA BABY.

Okay, so you can't quite crawl yet. But, man, crawling is for babies. You've got all the other essential skills mastered: sitting up (preferably on top of Mr DaddyBadger, to keep him in his place):

Bouncing (in '70s-stylee velour stripy tracksuit, natch):

Levitation (spoooooky. Okay, not really.):

And, of course, flirting (with shop assistants, little old ladies, other babies, lampposts, and, most often, cameras):

My amazing little man, I just can't wait to see where you're going next. Hopefully not up and running and on a collision course straight into our wine rack. Not until you've learned to use the corkscrew, anyway.

Nothing I can say can sum up quite how fabulously brilliant you are. From your pinball, jackpot-winning smiles, to your uncontrollable, cackling laugh, to your special extra-slobbery, somewhat bitey kisses. How did I ever get so lucky to be your mummy?

Best baby in the world ever. Fact.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Trying not to punch people in the face

We went to stay with a couple of friends this weekend, who are due to have their first baby in August (and before we get started, let me just say that I did not punch my pregnant friend in the face, nor did I ever have any desire to. Just in case you were wondering).

For some reason, since having Lumpy I've felt like we're suddenly advocates for all of babykind. Which is fairly weird, as *whisper it* I've never actually been all that keen on babies. Mine, of course, is completely brilliant and lovely and wonderful and fills his nappies with nothing but rose petals and puppies. But others... to be honest, I always thought they were a bit sticky and squishy and smelly and squawky. I'm getting over that, and do now think that some other babies are okay, or even fairly nice, but it's still odd to find myself defending the little beasties.

Lumpy has, in my mind, become the representative of all babies. If he behaves, my pregnant friends will be reassured and think that babies are a GOOD THING. If he's an evil screamy grumpster, they will be plunged into despair and probably elect to abandon their newborn on a rocky hillside to be devoured by wolves.

Luckily, my friends are a bit more rational than me (not too difficult, seeing as I am a screaming loon...) and realize that even if Lumpy started waving a flick knife around and threatening grannies, it would have little influence over the future disposition of their unborn child. And (even more luckily) Lumpy behaved impeccably, joining us in the pub for a couple of pints and not starting any fights. We managed to smother him effectively during his night squawking sessions, and I repeatedly reassured them that their baby would no doubt sleep through the night from two weeks and under-eye suitcases are not an inevitable side effect of breeding.

Because I have always sworn that I will not be one of those people. One of those people with children who look witheringly at pregnant people and tell them to get as much sleep as they can, and go to the cinema, and enjoy being on their own, and going to the toilet, and breathing, etc. etc. etc. because they're not going to get the chance to ever again. What helpful, positive advice. Thank you so much! And please accept this punch on the nose as a token of our deep appreciation.

Even worse than this, though, are the people who attack those with newborns. Having a newborn is completely mental. All of a sudden, you have this person - who's not really a person, but more of a strange, noisy bug-creature - that you have to look after. For the rest of your life. And it keeps demanding things, but you have no idea what it's demanding, because it just shouts and shouts for no reason. And even when it's not shouting, it just stares at you in a blank, faintly disapproving fasion. While dealing with this cross little invader, you also have to cope with rampant hormones that leave you a gibbering, tearful, incapable idiot.

It's brilliant, basically, and exactly what you need to help make it even better is someone to tell you that it gets worse.

Less than a week after Lumpy plopped out, we went into Mr Badger's work to show him off. On our way out, someone we don't even particularly know accosted us. We'll call him Mr Twat.

Mr Twat peered into the pram.

"So this is Lumpy?" he said, the sneer already beginning to play on his twattish lips.

"Yes," we said, grinning like the exhausted idiots we were.

"How old is he?" asked Twat.

"Six days," I said.

"Oh, the easy bit!" exclaimed Twatster, a psychotic glint in his eye. "Just you wait till he's six weeks. That's when it gets hard."

And that's when I delivered a swift uppercut to his jaw and knocked all his teeth down his throat.

Sadly, I didn't really. But I should have done. Because he was lying. It didn't get harder at six weeks. Or at twelve weeks, or six months. I doubt it will at a year, or five, or fifteen. Or even when we have another one, which is the other favourite of the harbingers of doom and woe: "ohhhhh, just wait till you have two to run after. Then you'll really know how completely shit it is to have kids."

The truth is, it doesn't get harder. It just gets different. Yes, there are new things to deal with as the days, months and years pass, and if you want to be miserable and self-pitying you can decide those new things make everything so much more difficult than the marvellous, lovely, easy time you had in the past. But you'll be fooling yourself. Sure, newborns sleep a lot. But they don't always do that sleeping at night, and the rest of the time they are shouting at you. You do everything to make them happy, and the selfish little so and so's give you nothing back: not a smile, not a laugh, not a well made martini of an evening. And yes, I'm sure having two or more children is jolly hard work, but at least by the time you get to that point you've got a bit of experience under your belt and know that you've managed to get at least one child through babyhood without accidentally (or, indeed, deliberately) throwing it in a skip or flushing it down the toilet - something first-time parents really don't know. Basically, as time goes on you emerge from the hormone fog, you get to know your baby better, and you finally build a bit of confidence in your own abilities not to kill or maim your own child at every opportunity. It's very easy to look back on the past with gooey pink-tinted eyes, and conveniently filter out all of the grim bits. But just because you've managed to forget them doesn't mean those grim bits aren't very vivid for those living through them right now.

And that's why telling someone with a baby that their life is only going to get harder is both unhelpful and complete bollocks. It's nothing but bullying dressed up as informed concern, just like those who scoff at people's hopes to have a natural birth or use real nappies, or do anything that the other person didn't manage to do themselves. People who do it are just unloading their own frustration and disappointment onto others who dare to be so blindly optimistic that they think they can have children while still maintaining some semblance of themselves.

I think they all deserve punching. So do what I failed to do, and just sock anyone in the chops who dares to imply that your life is both ridiculously easy and about to gallop its way down the toilet. That'll teach them, the miserable gits.

*This rant was brought to you by Barking Badgers. Thank you for your patience.*

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Further evidence that I am a twat

(not as if any evidence is required, but still...)

Mr Badger is currently away, throwing himself off mountains in Andalusia, so I am wrangling the Lumpy single handedly. As I was giving him a bath the other night, I thought that it would be nice to take some photos to remind the doting father of what he was missing (apart from continually interrupted sleep, of course. Moan, groan, grizzle, etc.) at first, it all went well. Lumpy looked suitably cute, giving his duckie a big kiss (i.e. biting it to death).

He also obliged by drinking his bath water and giving himself a comedy foam beard.

Then it all started to go a bit wrong. Lumpy, you see, is fascinated with phones and cameras. And what was I using to take his picture? Yes, a camera phone. Which is basically like baby crack to Lumpy. As soon as he sees it he musthavemusthavemusthave gimmegimmegimme booblady noooooooooow!!!! Rrrrrwwwoooaaaaaar! So, rather predictably, he started flailing towards the phone, desperately trying to grab it. And what did I, the intelligent and responsible parent, do? I kept taking photos, of course. Because, as stated above, I am a twat.

Did I also mention that Lumpy has recently learned to stand up? No?

About a nanosecond after I took this photo, the bath toppled dramatically, and rather predictably, sideways, spilling the water, and almost the Lumpy, down the plughole.

I didn't take a picture of that. Because I'm not that much of a twat. Almost. But not quite.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hello! I'm awake!

Wow! We got some sleep last night. Which is rare and unusual and rather wonderful. I was still up with the Lumpling between about 3am and 4.30am, but that was it. And the sun is shining, so I feel rather jolly and invincible. For once, I didn't just crawl back into bed as soon as I put him down for his morning nap, I actually got up (GASP!). And had a shower (WONDERS!). And put on clothes (YARP!). Unfortunately, I didn't manage to do any of this before the postman came, bringing me parcels, but hey ho. The poor man is used to my gigantaboobs looming at him of a morning from their woefully inadequate confines of a Primark vest top.

So. I am here. And... um...

Oh yes. To what do we think we owe this magnificent improvement in sleep? Quite possibly, shutting a door.

Yes, radical, I know. I have contacted publishers and they are very excited. The Shut The Door Sleep Method. It'll kick Gina Ford's arse, let me tell you.

Lumpy's room is just across the hall from our bedroom. Our bedroom is very small, so is his. The hall is very narrow. Basically, he is virtually in the bed with us. Since he was born, I've become an extraordinarily light sleeper and will leap from the bed at his slightest snort, squawk, fart, or bestial growl (we get lots of those). When he was actually in the room with us this didn't seem to matter quite so much as I'd work out whether he was really awake without actually getting out of bed. Now, though, I have to actually get out of bed, walk across a room, and go into another room. This wakes me up quite a lot more than staying in bed did, strangely enough. More importantly, I often end up waking up Lumpy by blundering in and poking him, to try and find out if he's awake. This is somewhat counterintuitive, but my powers of logic and quietness at four in the morning are not at their peak.

When we first moved Lumpy into his room we propped the door open, all the better to hear the snorts, grunts, and meeps. Unfortunately, this meant we usually woke him up when we went blundering to bed (we like a bit of blundering in our house), so we eventually started pulling the door to. But, essentially, we didn't shut it. And then, last night, in an effort to stop me racing in and disturbing our poor child the minute he dared to make any sort of noise, we finally did. And, wonder of wonders, we all seemed to sleep better for it. I still heard him the minute he cried, and got to rush in and start poking him to my heart's delight. But I wasn't woken up by every innocent night noise. It was marvellous.

Of course, now I've blogged about it, no doubt he'll scream his guts out every 40 minutes all night long from now till November. Ho hum.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Nursery nightmares

Well. Hello there. It's been a while. Sorry about that. I tend to sit down on the couch on Monday, blink, and suddenly it's Thursday week. Not sure how that happens. But here I am! Attempting to post an actual post! Hurrah for me and my massive efficiency.

I've started thinking about going back to work. (Shhhhh... we have to whisper or Lumpy will hear us. He thinks he has me trapped here forever, you see. But no, I will escape! Freedom will be mine! Freeeeeeedom... to, um, sit at a desk and make up words. While trying to stay awake because CLEARLY THIS CHILD IS NEVER GOING TO LEARN HOW TO SLEEP AND I WILL BE COOING TO HIM AT 3AM WHEN I'M GREY AND OLD AND DEAD, AND... what? Was I shouting there? I'm terribly sorry. Where was I...?)

Ah, yes. Work. I'm feeling rather torn about it to be honest. Half of me despises the thought of having to leave my ickle babba to the care of others and become an office drone once more. I keep wondering what I'm going to end up missing. Maybe he'll learn to walk while I'm in a tedious meeting about print runs and cover designs. Perhaps he'll say his first words while I'm picking my nose by the watercooler. No doubt he'll beat up another child for the first time while I'm browsing the Internet pretending to be terrible busy and important indeed. It's heartbreaking.

But also. Also. It feels like a step back to being a normal person again. To being me again. And to earning some dosh once more. That would be nice. Though as I failed so utterly at moving to London and getting a proper big person's job like all my friends did, I really won't be getting very much dosh at all.

I'm going back for just four days a week, which snips a nice 20% off the old wage. Plus we have to find a suitable baby prison in which to deposit the Lumpy while I'm not there to crack the whip and keep the cage clean.

And therein lies the rub, really.

Childcare is a total and utter nightmare. It's hideously, prohibitively expensive, for one thing. And it's also woefully inadequate for my little prince. What? You have a three to one ratio at this nursery? That means three members of staff for each child, right? What? No? Oh... And I also notice, these toys don't seem to be gold plated. He won't like that. And the other children are allowed to touch them? This really won't do at all.

But it's either a nursery or leaving the cats to look after him. And we all know where that would lead.

The place where I push words around (i.e. work) doesn't have an on-site nursery, but it does have places in various nurseries in town. Not enough places, of course, because that would be too easy, and make its employees lives just that bit easier and more straightforward. And how on earth are they expected to keep up with their disgusting fornicating, constantly spawning workers?

Because we are all so keen on dropping sprogs at this place, you have to put your name down on a waiting list. Now, I thought I knew how waiting lists worked. You got on them, you wait, and when you reach the top of the list, you get what you were waiting for. Right?

WRONG, suckers! That's not how our crazy nursery waiting list works. It turns out that they just randomly decide to offer people nursery places based on whim and fancy. Because they have nice hair. Or their name starts with a P. Things like that. Nothing to do with how long they've been on the list or anything like that, because, oh no, that would be just what they'd be expecting. And we have to keep them on their toes these mothers. Otherwise they'll start getting all out of hand and trying to breastfeed the CEO or eat other people's children. Probably.

Way back in January they rang me up and offered me a place. Because I didn't want one then. I actually considered taking it up and just paying for it until May, but this would have ended up costing thousands of pounds and I have about £3.64 at the moment, so it wouldn't really have worked. I have a friend who had a baby five days before me, who also works at Word Pushing Place. She was offered the same place in January after I had turned it down. Because of this, I stupidly assumed that I was above her on the list. Because I am an idiot who doesn't understand the ancient lore of ye olde mystical nursery waiting list, clearly.

Because yesterday, when seeing said friend, she told me that she'd been offered a place at one of the nurseries for May. Which baffled me a bit, as I hadn't heard anything, and had just assumed there were no spaces till September.

So I gave the nursery lady a call. I was full of righteous anger and indignation, and prepared to kick up a right stink. The conversation went a bit like this:

"Oh, hi. My name's Mrs Badger and I'm currently on the nursery waiting list."

"Oh. Hello scum."

"Um, yes. You see, I'm a bit confused, as I have a friend who's also on the waiting list, who has a baby exactly the same age as mine, and she's just been offered a place. But in January I was offered a place before her, so..."

"It doesn't work like that. You don't have a 'place' on the waiting list. The nurseries just look at everyone who wants a place and chooses the one they think suits the place best. It's kind of hard to explain (to stupid people like you)."

"Oh, right. But..."

"They probably like the other baby more. It's probably cleverer. Prettier. Less vomity. Something like that."

"Right... ok. But..."

"Sorry, but that's all I can say. I don't have any influence over it. It's all up to the nurseries. I'll let you know when they have a place for you and your skanky inadequate baby. Which will be never."

"Um. Thank you."


Yeah. When it comes to the crunch, I'm not all that good at righteous indignation, it seems. I go all humble and polite. And then cry for a bit once they've put the phone down on me.

The plot thickened later when the friend with the special, nursery-desirable baby texted to tell me that she'd turned the place down. You see, this nursery is quite a long way from work, and on the other side of town from us.

So, in theory, the place is still free.

Did I then snatch the phone up again and ring the evil nursery lady back, demanding that the place be given to me and my sub-standard, sick-covered baby immediately?

No. Of course I didn't. I sent her an email about childcare vouchers, in the oblique hope that she'd reply with a "...and while we're at it, that place? It's yours! We love you and Lumpy really! (scum)"

She didn't. She answered the question about vouchers. And that was it.

So now I'm waiting. Like the idiot that I am.

And I've filled in the forms for the big, not so nice nursery just up the road. That had space when I enquired a month ago, but probably won't now.

Oh, well. Lumpy can always come to work with me. I have drawers. And my boss likes him. He ate my keeping in touch days form when I went in for my returning to work meeting (Lumpy, that is, not my boss). That's recycling! He can get a job as a recycling unit. Sorted.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Baby furballs

I furminated the cat the other day. Because that's the sort of decadent, crazy-fun thing we get up to around here. Jealous? YOU SHOULD BE.

The cat was quite hairy. And by 'quite' I mean, oh-my-god-that's-disgusting, type hairy. It was, not to mince words, a shedding filth machine.

So I gave her a good going over with the Furminator (which, if you don't know, is a bit of a cross between a brush and a razor, but not quite as cruel as that sounds. Okay, it is that cruel. But they love it. They do. The little feline freaks.) and the fur just kept on coming. Handfuls of it. Literally.

(by the way, the creature lurking to the left of the picture is not the cat. In case you were worried.)

I started piling this mass of fur on the floor, disgusted and fascinated in equal measure. The cat eventually escaped, just before it was rendered completely bald, and I sat back and stared in wondering awe at the mound. If I looked closely, I could see whole ecosystems I had unwittingly destroyed. I felt like God.

Then Lumpy got in on the action, grabbed a handful, and shoved it straight in his mouth.

Now that's Baby Led Weaning at it's best.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A tale of two weanings

When we first starting weaning the Lumpy, there weren't many solids in evidence. In fact, it was slop all the way. And, at first, this was pleasing to the baby dictator. He wolfed the lot of it down with wild enthusiasm. Baby rice slop! Yum! Mushed vegetable slop! Mmm, delicious! Squashed fruity slop! Gimme gimme gimme! Fishy slop! Meaty slop! Slop slop slop! Bring me more slop, woman! Get a bigger shovel! Why are you hanging around? Rwwoooaaaarrrrrrr!

And then it all changed.

I should have expected it, really. If there's one thing I've learned over the past almost-eight-months (and there is really only one thing) it's that nothing to do with babies is ever even vaguely permanent or predictable. Just when you think you see a pattern, or make a connection, or dare to assume that your baby likes/dislikes/tolerates something, without warning or reason everything will change and you will suddenly be faced with a small, frowny stranger. Who is wondering why you are trying to force him to eat this disgusting slop. Oh my god, woman, why are you trying to poison me with this filth? Meaty slop?! I puke on your meaty slop! I spit the sloppy filth upon your carpet, where it belongs! Get out of my sight, wench! You disgust me. Scream scream scream scream scream.

Mealtimes became quite a battle. As I have nothing else to do with my life at this point (I once had a job, you know, and was a vaguely productive human being. Once.), I was prepared to devote hours at a time to the game of trying to get slop into a flailing, complaining baby. Because it was SO MUCH FUN, and I like nothing better than making my baby cry. I did discover, however, that the most effective way of stopping Lumpy crying is to dissolve into broken, exhausted sobs yourself. Because that iz funnies. Real funnies. I'm trying to reassure myself that this is not the sign if a fledgling psychopath.

Eventually, sanity (aka someone who is not me) stepped in, and suggested we give it a rest with the slop, already. Maybe try some finger food. And stop biting the furniture.

I had heard of Baby Led Weaning (or BLW, as those trying to save precious time call it), and was skeptical. I mean, let's be honest, babies are a bit crap. Especially at things involving coordination and fine motor control and not just throwing shit around. People who did BLW were clearly crazy hippies with dangerous ideas, with which they planned to bring down the government and normal, decent society as we know it. And they had food in their hair. And skinny, extremely cross babies.

Even so, I had offered Lumpy finger food before, usually at the same time as trying to cram slop into him. It had not been a success. Most of it ended up massaged into the table top, or, if I was really luck, rubbed into an eye (they can absorb calories through their eyes, right?). So I was fairly convinced that this would lead to starvation, death, and destruction for all involved (melodramatic? Me?? Meeeeeeee???!!!) But I was prepared to try it, just so I wouldn't have to sit holding a spoon of putrid slop for more hours on end.

And guess what? It went okay. Without the distraction of some screeching harpy trying to shove slop into his mouth, Lumpy actually focused on the food and managed to get some of it into his gob. I'm not completely certain, but he may even have swallowed a small percentage. And neither of us cried, so that's a resounding success in my book.

Since then, we've pretty much given up on slop. Apart from porridge. And yogurt. And avocado. Basically stuff that Lumpy would quite like to eat, but which really require a spoon, at least in my repressed, uptight book. So we do spoon-fed porridge for breakfast, anything I can lay my hands on and think Lumpy might like to gnaw on or slobber to death for lunch, followed by spoon-fed yogurt, then more scavenged finger foods for dinner, with a delicious dessert cocktail of avocado, fruit, and yogurt slop. We had to leave some slop in there, otherwise the earth would teeter and tip off its axis.

Strawberries are the current favourite. Generally shoved whole into the mouth, then plopped in and out, and occasionally rubbed against the two teeth until a suckable mush is obtained. Yummy.

And, wonder of wonders! Lumpy is still alive. And still quite fat. And so am I (alive and quite fat). So hurrah for that.

Will attempt to absorb food through nose and forehead. Logicals.

(We're still not getting any sleep. But, hey, sleep is so last century, man.)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Fascinating conversation from the Badger couch

Mr Badger: ...because, on a fractal level, the coast of Britain is infinite.

Mrs Badger: I can't believe you just said that.

Mr Badger: Why? It's true!! I can explain it to you if you want.

Mrs Badger: I want more wine.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Warning: Dangerous Socks

Grandma Badger was giving the Lumpy his daily dunking in the bucket the other day, while I was downstairs strapped to the milking machine (moo! I wonder where that cow obsession comes from...). Suddenly, I was startled from my milky, nipple-sucking reverie by a panicked cry from above.

"Mrs Badger!" cried Grandma Badger (for she is a very formal soul, and always insists on using titles. "Come here now!"

"What?" I said, for the milking machine is loud and I am somewhat deaf.

"I just wiped him, and there was blood," came the rather distressing reply.

I tore myself asunder from the sucking beast, and galloped upstairs. Wiped? Blood? My mind was instantly filled with the prognosis for an anally bleeding child, and how many days he would be likely to live.

I barrelled into the bathroom, where the quaking grandmother held forth the Sponge of Doom, thus:

Lumpy had had a bit of a cold, and there had been a small amount of blood in some of the snot I had sucked most recently. But this... if this monstrosity had come out of his nose, then surely his brain was soon to follow. But the thought of it coming out of his nose was preferably from the bleeding bum theory, so I decided to run with it.

"Where did it come from?" I questioned the Grandmother. "His nose? Where? Where?!" Screech, howl, etc.

"I don't know," she quaked. "I just wiped his body with the sponge, and when I pulled it out that was on there."

Okay, I thought. This will require further investigation. I reached forwards, figuring that if I felt the blood, I'd be able to guess what part of my child was haemorrhaging. If it was slimy and mucousy, it was probably a nose product. Otherwise... elsewhere.

I grabbed the blood, and...

it was fluffy.

It was a great big bit of red fluff, which the Lump had smuggled into his bath between his toes, shed by the snazzy, manly pirate socks Mr Badger had bought him for Christmas (because he was opposed to the 'girly' tights I have a penchant for dressing him in).

So that bout of hysteria was his fault, basically.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Mad cow

I think I may have mentioned my bovine obsession before. I've always liked cows, to be honest - they're just reassuringly big and spotty and placid (unless they're trampling you to death, of course). I even rode one once, when I was very little (I was young, we were on a farm... it's a long story). Hell, even my cat is cow-coloured (and also, basically, cow-sized).

But the real obsession didn't start until Lumpy was born and the hormones rotted my brain and I became a total mental.

It started with this, I think:

A newborn cow outfit that Grandma Badger bought, and that I continued to cram poor Lumpy into long after it was straining at the seams and the cow-spots were faded from too much puking and washing.

The outfit was actually part of a set, which included a blanket, booties, and, of course, a hat. We liked the hat. It was stretchy enough to fit over ginormous heads.

So far, so normal(ish). But then it started getting silly. Cow nappy covers, anyone? Oh yes.

A really quite embarrassing collection of cow-related toys and books? Check.

Then it just got cruel. Some months ago, I got re-obsessed with ebay, and spent a fairly stupid amount of money on a very, very stupid cow coat. It was for victims over six months, so when it arrived I hid my shame by putting it away in the 'big boy clothes box' (that's not Mr Badger's wardrobe by another name, surprisingly, but just a box full of clothes I have yet to subject Lumpy to. He's going to have a hell of a time when he's 18, I can tell you).

Lumpy is now, of course, well over six months. But the coat of shame had remained in the box up till last week, when I decided it was time to don the cow. We were off to the cinema, it was a bit chilly, and I wanted to punish the small person for keeping me awake all night.

I have to admit, even I was a bit embarrassed pushing a mass of velvety, red-lined cow print along in the pram. But it got even worse when I put the hood up. Now, as we all know, Lumpy has a record-breakingly gigantic head, but the person who made this coat clearly usually did designs for freak shows, where the main feature was mutant headed bizarro beasts.

Boob lady? Boob ladie? Where is youz?

Seriuz. Am getting bit scaredz now. Iz all dark.

I sleeps really well toe nights. Promiz.

Ah ha! Just kidding. Will be up every half hours to reminds you never to make Lumpies where this coat again. Dont mess with mez, fool.