Nutritional Overachiever

I poured myself into my new joggy bottoms, the ones that were reduced to £3 for being a rather peculiar shade of navy blue and discomfortingly bum-bifurcating. They are a size 18 and rather tight around the waist.

I squeezed into my new sports boob-flattener, although not without a titanic three-way struggle for supremacy between me, the bra, and my bosum. The bra is also a size 18, and crushes me around the ribs. In the end, I was obliged to physically grasp each of my boobs, which were escaping wobblesomely towards my double-chins, and mercilessly ram them down into the constrictive captivity of the industrial elastic.

I rootled in the cupboard and eventually extracted a dust-encrusted pair of (what were once) sparkling white running shoes. They were cheap, hence quite noticeably uncool, and have absurdly long, stretchy laces which I spent 15 procrastinating minutes attempting to shorten by re-lacing.

I looked in the mirror to view the overall ensemble and winced, as last night’s shopping trip into Stratford had been rainy (and umbrella-less), and my (well-overdue-for-cutting) hair had gone… strange. Think: shapeless hybrid between an Old English Sheepdog


and Farrah Fawcett circa the Cannonball Run,


but sadly deficient in both the cute and the sex appeal, respectively. (Note to self: double-check I have that the right way around before hitting ‘Publish’.)

But hey! No-one will care, surely? No-one checks out the fat woman at the gym. No-one will even bother smirking at the fashion disaster-encased lard. I’m having my hair cut on Tuesday. No-one will ever remember I looked like this.

I slunk unobtrusively through the main doors and furtively up the stairs.

“Hi! You’re a new member? Stand just over there for your membership photo, please!”


The Force is Strong in This One

So, we went to the hospital last week to see Harry’s Paediatrician. Either our much-HFF-respected Dr was having an off-day… or I need to extract my head from where it has got stuck up my bum. I’m still not sure which.

I told him that Harry had dropped off the height centile chart, and he cast an appraising glance at how high Hubby and I came up the wall. Hubby is a squarely-built 5ft 7. I am an even squarer 5ft 4. Paediatrician is 6ft 3 minimum, so I knew already that diminutive stature wasn’t a problem he was going to immediately empathise with. He told me that Harry looks absolutely fine, and that I should get him measured properly at clinic where they will stretch him out properly (that sounds bad, however I think it), rather than measure him at home. I told him that a Health Visitor had firstly wanted to measure him standing (which loses several cm somehow… but where?!) and then managed to measure his wriggling form at 2cm shorter than our most pessimistic home attempt – but it didn’t slow him down. Harry is officially fine apparently, teeny-tiny 4ft-11-aspirational cousin or not. He did nod when I told him I was aware that some IUGR children experience permanent growth restriction, but nevertheless his overall take was “I’m surprised you’ve brought it up”.

Oh. OK. Lets talk about his feeding issues then. Cue waffle from me about feeding strikes and tongue ulcers. Brisk enquiries regarding Harry’s recent average intake. Gentle prodding of the slightly-bulging Harry-tum. (Squeee! I love chub on little people!) Yep. He’s fine. Next question.

Ok. Umm. Fluster fluster. What the hell else is wrong with the child? Think. Oh yes! Toe-walking! Up until a month ago (since when, admittedly, the problem has diminished hugely) Harry was persistently turned-inward-tippy-toe-walking, and he’s never been left in a bouncer. I told him this, and said that taken in conjunction with the fits/brain damage scare when Harry was born, I had been quite concerned about… and I gulped… perhaps… a mild touch of cerebral palsy?

Now, Harry’s paediatrician is a enormous towering black dude (not too many of those in Warwickshire) with an engaging smile (sadly, ditto) and a cool accent that took John and I a little while last year to tune into properly. His body language is quite unlike that of any western Europeans I have seen, but distinctly African and hence fairly unfamiliar to me. (I used to sell things to people. I’m afraid I look for stuff like that automatically now.) But whaddaya know! Eyebrows climbing into your hairline, and shaking your head whilst exclaiming NoNoNoNoNO! as your chair wheelspins backwards is a reaction that knows no borderlines.

Seems he doesn’t think Harry has cerebral palsy. I am apparently worrying too much. Fair enough. Then, just as I was attempting to re-adjust my ideas and draw the threadbare tatters of my maternal credibility around me, my dear, darling spouse felt the need to make his first verbal contribution. It came bursting out, Tourette’s-fashion.

“She looks on the internet!”

Great. Just… great.

Comprehension visibly dawned in Towering Paediatrican Dude’s eyes. (Delivered mildly didactic one-wayer on having too much information and letting it worry you.) I sank into my chair, a mixture of complete mortification and inarticulate fury at Hubby’s blatant betrayal.

TPD never even saw Harry walk, but impressed upon me gravely that Harry is really only 14 months old. He is doing, apparently, Very Well. Thou Shalt Not Compare Thy Child To Other Children! Wobbliness is Allowed. I nodded meekly, and whilst TPD scribbled in his notes (‘Paranoid mother with internet connection. Disregard her every word in future’) murmured with ever-decreasing-vocal-volume something about it being difficult to forget about someone telling you your child might have suffered brain damage, mutter mutter, and taken all in all with the wobbliness and the fact that he’s not talking yet, I thought I’d just mention

Incisively through my sussuration of embarrassed self-justification: “He hasn’t spoken yet? No clear words?”

“Um, not really. Friends have told us twice they’ve discerned words, but we’ve not picked up a thing.’

He enquired about possible hearing difficulties, but Harry can hear a packet of Wotsits being opened (don’t hate me) three counties away: no messing. I explained that if I hear John’s car and ask “Where’s Daddy?”, then Harry will toddle off to look expectantly at the back door – and I heard him muttering ‘follows instructions…’ to himself whilst his pen went zooming across the page. And when the zooming ceased, Harry had scored himself a big fat referral to Speech and Language.

I only really mentioned the speech thing inadvertently, as Harry is a conversational baby who is highly fluent in gibberish – and both Hubby and I were late talkers. I did ask John in mild frustration yesterday: when the hell will Harry think the time is right to actually, you know, bloody well say something – and he replied that Harry appears to think that he is talking just fine, thanks very much, and if we can’t understand him, that’s our problem. A rigid pointy arm and slow-motion graspy-fist sign, coupled with an intent stare (with optional insistent/indignant shriek) tends to work wonders for all the things he can’t reach – although, when the object in question is verboten, it does leave him looking rather like a very tiny Jedi master who is having problems using the Force. 


(Yeah. right, so there should be a comparison photo here of Harry in order to illustrate, you know, the Funny. But it’s gone 1 in the morning, the main PC with the photos on is turned off, the camera memory cards are in the car outside, and I can’t be arsed. Trust me, they look hauntingly similar.)

So, after all that, the only problem I didn’t highlight is the only one TPD thinks is worth focussing on.  Go me!

Apparently TPD didn’t hear Harry’s VSD– but he didn’t seem to remember about its existence, either, until I asked him about it at the end. It’s a quiet VSD and he only had a quickish listen, compared with previous episodes of lengthy minutes of listening (before summoning the ubiquitous medical student to have a go, without mentioning any heart issues first. After an initial blunder, we have learnt not to give that particular game away.) so I can’t really reassure myself yet that it’s really gone. That would be too good a thing for me to believe in without some harder proof.

Anyhoo, I am looking forward to our copy of the clinic report letter to our GP. It should be an absolute doozy this time around.

My fingers are beginning to drop off: I’ll make it quick for any loyal soul still with me. Hubby had Harry for the entire day. First time ever. He coped. Hurrah!

Today I spent £258 on gym membership, despite being broke. I have registered Harry at the creche – rather a dismal, lightless room, but it has fun stuff in and the staff seem nice enough. It will be his first time alone, ever, with someone who is not a parent, grandparent, or medical professional. I suspect he’ll be fine – and I will only be 50 yards away – but I am still a little fluttery about leaving him for those virgin 90 minutes.

 I have a week to work myself up nicely about it.

Gender Roles

I saw this Meme on Molly’s site this morning, and thought I’d have a quick rummage in my photo folder to see what mine would be. It’s a peach, so I thought I’d share it.

Go to your sixth picture folder

Select the sixth picture

Tell the story behind the picture:

My 30th birthday: I held a quintessentially British Tarts and Vicars Party… except I asked everyone to switch genders. I felt I needed a laugh. 

Now, the reaction of the common-or-garden British male to the prospect of wearing a dress can vary widely. I found that practically every point on the scale from ‘Disturbingly Enthusiastic’ to ‘The Lady Doth Protest Too Much’ was represented.

One of John’s oldest pals simply didn’t come because he was so horrified by the entire concept of coming in drag. Another chap dutifully turned up in the requisite short skirt, but looked so painfully unhappy I was worried all night that I’d upset him forever. My closest male friend, who errs on the shy side with new acquaintance, turned up in the most fabulous costume – but I distinctly caught wind of an undercurrent of cripplingly acute embarrassment.


On the flip side: the three gentlemen pictured here dived joyously into drag faster than rats up a drainpipe. I am married to the hairy one (wearing my old skinny clothes! Although, in my defence, I only ever wore the top with black trousers, and the skirt was scissored off an oriental dress) in the Tina Turner wig who is reaching out to tweak the other chap’s boob.

And in case you’re wondering, I dressed as a pimp.

Upsy Daisy

Maison Hairy are anticipating a mildly intriguing couple of days.

Tomorrow is Harry’s consultant paediatrician appointment, where I get to give my fears regarding cerebral palsy, dwarfism, depressed immune system and tongue ulceration their first public airing among specialist doctors. I’m not expecting too much in the way of actual outcome, mind you: Harry’s Dr is a fabulous chap but alas! only human. 

Harry’s repeated bouts of bronchiolitis have not actually resulted in a hospital admission as yet, and we see far too many babies in the course of a week for his constant illness to be considered odd. All he can do about Harry’s disappeared-off-the-bottom-of-the-chart 73cm height is continue to monitor him. He can watch Harry walk stagger and fall over like a tiny tiny tiny clown, and tell me that yes, the next few months will indicate whether he is merely an exceedingly clumsy little wobbler or if he does indeed have CP. And he can attempt to peer inside Harry’s mouth, whilst Hubby and I pray that our son does not immediately sink all his 11 teefies into the man who was bleeped out of bed the night he was born to save his life. But he can tell me what we should do the next time Harry refuses point-blank to eat for a fortnight. And we get to see if the hole in his heart (clinically insignificant VSD, no symptoms, don’t worry, yes yes yes, I know) looks like healing up on its own anytime soon. Please God, please.

And if I feel very brave, we might stick our heads back inside the Special Care Baby Unit with some of Harry’s less-adorable premature baby clothes. Perhaps I won’t hyperventilate this time. I might just puke in the corridor instead.

So, hospital with child tomorrow. And on Thursday, I am off to the Gift Fair in Birmingham for the day with my Mum; I will come home with acute Visa wrist and every single Christmas present purchased. Oh yes. It will be so!

John has been booked for this daytime parenting duty for several months; he initially readily agreed, in the sure knowledge that he could palm Harry off onto his mother for half the day – as per usual. However, his mother is in Kentucky visiting his twin brother, so this will be Hubby’s first ever day of solo parenting. First ever. Harry is 15+ months old. I have overheard John making elaborate arrangements to ensure that he will not be left alone to entertain Hellboy: they are lunching at Harry’s godfather’s and they are also going to visit Hubby’s sister. I’m not quite sure who to feel sorry for.

Of course, that is all assuming they make their morning rounds of the farm without incident; it went slightly Pete Tong for Hubby this morning. It’s bad enough that you have to make a highly reluctant rescue request to the wife to pull you out of a hole with a tractor (A visible hole! That you knew was there! That you tipped straight into! Oops!) – but she brings the camcorder as well!

More bluster and recriminations on You Tube.

More Tea, Vicar?

I’m a bit sheepish about this, as I have to explain to you that my endocrine system is sadly deluded again, because my body obviously thinks, erroneously, that ovulation has occurred. Daft cow. Optimistic, yes, but not clever.

I suppose she’s trying her best: so I had better give her credit for the small amount of EWCM produced. And on Wednesday I had palpitations so thumpy I was thankful that the Piddle were visiting, as I reasoned that if my heart decided to give up completely and I passed dramatically away, which felt likely, at least Harry wouldn’t have the opportunity to gleefully maul my corpse about and gouge my eyes out. It’s his precious new trick, bless him.

Without the miracle of modern peesticks, I might perhaps have been suckered into said body’s heartfelt protestations of ovulation. However, courtesy of the cheap end of the internet, I recently purchased a job-lot of tests and have been dutifully peeing in the Bertolli Pasta Sauce mug that I have recently placed in the bathroom for this very purpose. This was a deliberate choice of urine receptacle: I dislike the mug intensely, but am too frugal to throw away a perfectly sound item. I had pushed it to the back of the cupboard, but Hubby, knowing my feelings concerning it, would generally pick it out deliberately to annoy me and re-insert it into circulation. I suspect that its tea-containing days are now officially over. Anyhoo, I have been peeing in my tea cup and dipping the infertile’s biscotti: ovulation sticks.

We have a whole bag of nice camera lenses, but not one that will focus down close enough to show you just how laughably faint the LH lines have been all this week. They were discernable to the naked eye – just – up until Thursday night, when the stick turned lily-white. The mucus has stopped. The palpitations – always my favourite symptom -have stopped. My body, in fact, is patently relaxing in the warm glow of a job well done. Sigh.

I had best go and be productive: John is about to disappear (as he does every Saturday) for several hours to play hockey; we have four friends coming to dinner, and Harry is a fretful tired little man, who has been subdued by his MMR jab all week. We have an expanding measles outbreak here in Warwickshire, a fact which I took care to relay to the two mothers I know who have refused to get their 3 year olds MMRd because of, you know, the risk. 

Ahh, yes! That’d be the risk that never was, then, ladies. If Harry catches even the mildest possible dose of measles – and I was seriously ill with it as a child – before his immunity kicks in from one of these unvaccinated toddler children of irresponsible mothers, I shall be applying cow shit to doorsteps in liberal quantities.

My laptop is under attack from questing little fingers that want to help Mummy type.


Good bye!

Little BlogHer

So… umm… does anyone fancy a pint? Or, you know, we could really push the boat out and… do lunch. I don’t really have any usable weekends this side of Christmas, but the HFF’s calendar in January is looking like old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, and I really fancy a bloggy get-together. Kind of like a BlogHer party, but on a miniature scale and (sadly) without the swish corporate sponsorship. In fact, cross-pollinate BlogHer with a pub lunch (a rough-as-arseholes pub, too, coz I shall be flat broke) and there you are. London seems the logical location… I know May is keen… so how about it? Wanna come?

Email hairyfarmer at with some dates if you’re up for it.

Lest We Forget

With all proper apologies and deference to Jaywalker, and despite my parents having thoroughly enjoyed their trip there last year – there are an entire host of countries on my To Visit list that excite my culture vulture more than Belgium. However, this is not to say that you should not visit Belgium or northern France if you ever have the opportunity. In particular, I urge you to take your children.

I had wanted for a number of years to make the journey – a pilgrimage of sorts – to Belgium. Ieper, to be precise. Somehow I just never managed to get near the place. Eventually in 2004 I managed to kill four birds with one stone (thus slightly muting Hubby’s parsimonious squeaks); we decided to get the ferry over to Calais in order to buy the wine for our wedding reception. We I scheduled the trip for Valentines Day (romantic visit to Continent: check) and as my birthday falls the day afterwards (romantic birthday trip to Continent: check) I was able to talk Hubby into an overnight stay in the next country along, in order to visit Ieper (romantic birthday visit to the Continental War Graves: check).

I did not precisely distinguish myself driving through the last section of France – I turned off the autoroute onto a local road and promptly forgot about that whole pesky driving on the right thing. I have seen real fear in a number of faces during my life, and those in the cars driving straight towards us that day contributed significantly towards my overall total. In the midst of my horror I had a panicky idea about national police jurisdictions and therefore floored the accelerator for a few miles until we crossed the border into Belgium, before ceding the driving seat to a white-faced hubby. We then proceeded to the Ieper (Ypres) Novotel with extreme caution and ridiculously exaggerated courtesy to other roadusers. 


That night, I stood silently at the Menin Gate at 8pm, and my tears and the heavy rain both poured as the bugler sounded the Last Post. With the sole exception of the 1940 – 1944 German occupation (when the ceremony continued at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey) it has sounded every night and in all weathers since 1929, commemorating those who died. Every last one of them a mother’s child.  

We will take Harry there when he is old enough to begin to understand that they shall grow not old. We will revisit the Flanders Fields Museum and the Passchendaele War Cemetery. We will explain to him why we fall silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. We will tell him why we wear poppies in early November, and I hope he will wear one himself with pride.

Sadly, it is likely that the last three surviving UK-resident British veterans of World War One will not live long enough to be present at a Cenotaph service that Harry would be old enough to remember into adulthood.


Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and Bill Stone, 108.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

RL Binyon

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