Otter is now one, her birthday was spent walking round the turrets of Warwick Castle, with her in the sling having a ride with a view. It gave my legs the ultimate workout, lugging a 10 kilo baby up and down all those steps.
She’s changing at an alarming rate. Her first word (after ‘mummy’) was ‘duck’, said quite clearly at Rushmere Park last weekend, when Mr M&H was pointing out the said ducks to her.
She can now climb up the stairs, and almost down again. I discovered this when I was vacuuming and turned around on the top step, to find that she’d followed me.
She eats anything I put in front of her, which is more than I can say for Mole and Hedgehog, who at the minute refuse everything unless it’s macaroni cheese.
Yesterday I got a call from the school, saying that both Mole and Hedgehog were fine, but that Mole is in the school canteen telling the dinner ladies that she’s now a pescatarian, and that they have no record of this, so can I confirm?. Brilliant. We did go pescatarian recently, and organic with the dairy, but I was in two minds about enforcing it at school or not. It seems Mole has done this for me now.
We’re in a fun stage with the teeth too. Mole has lost seven of her milk teeth, her mouth is now a mixture of big teeth, little teeth, and gaps. Otter has seven little teeth now, (whenever Otter gets rosy cheeks and explosive poohs, we know that another tooth is about to appear), and Hedgehog is in the middle stage with all her teeth firmly in place. The tooth fairy is a regular feature for us. I have the baby tooth tin in Mole’s keepsake box, which is fine as long as Mole doesn’t ever find it. I sometimes imagine a super awkward explanation as to why her teeth are not with the tooth fairy and her tooth castle.
Otter is loving the piano. She plays it every day, patting the piano stool to indicate that she wants to be lifted onto it, and she seems to especially like the organ button, doing doomful and dramatic chords that reverberate around the living room.
Sleep is still a minefield. They all seem to be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, except for Mr M&H and myself, who live in a permanent state of bleary eyed exhaustion. I’m not sure how this works. There being three of them, there is a fair chance that at least one of them will be out of bed at any given time in the night. They work on a rota system, with us on the conveyer belt, like a sleep deprivation torture exercise. Hedgehog is probably the worst at this right now. She has perfected the art of dragging out everything, demanding mummy cuddle after mummy cuddle, then “stories when you were little”, in which we have to recount a story from our childhood, followed by “made up stories”, which usually have to include a unicorn.
Otter is not walking yet, but I sense that it cannot be long. Mole and Hedgehog both walked at around 15 months, so I’m basing my expectations with Otter on this. She plays wonderful squealy games with them both, crawling after them and spending hours in their room, pulling things off shelves or sitting with them in the mornings, staring at them in wonder with her wobbly head. I often plonk her in their bedroom after our morning feed, to have a play and give Mr M&H and I an extra twenty minutes in bed. At some point Mole or Hedgehog bring her back to us, waddling with her strung up by her armpits, saying something like “Otter’s getting tetchy”, which is code for “she’s getting in the way of our game”.
Otter loves electrics. Plug sockets are her favourite, followed by chewing on wires, and drooling all over my phone. I’m a bit more blasé with baby number three, having my energy and my standards worn down over the past six years, but a sharp “NO” seems to work, if she’s doing something really dodgy. She whips her head around and stares at me for an age, before slowly backing away from the scene of the crime.
She is more at home in the buggy now, and doesn’t demand to be fed in a fit of wailing at the school gates like she did in the new born months. There are no emergency breastfeeds in the school playground anymore. She mainly lays and stares out at the world in a non-plussed way, or else goes to sleep. I’ve started putting shoes on her feet which poke out from her snowsuit, just to stop them from freezing off.
Now that she’s explored the entire house at knee high level, including climbing inside the dishwasher, and shredding the toilet paper, she’s taken to escaping out of the house as well, whenever she gets the chance. A thirty second walk out to the shed or the bins is all the window she needs, and I’ll scooped her up on the front step or on the lawn on my way back.
She’s still very selective about new people. She coyly flirts with them from a safe distance, and then completely freaks out if they try to hold her. She warmed to Granny Purple Hair during the Christmas holidays, but only after about four days. Mr M&H can now put her to bed, which is a relief that she’s not as reliant on the boob as she once was. She adores Mr M&H, giving him a huge grin when he comes in the door.
Her delighted squeals and giggles during all our games is probably the most entertaining thing for me. Her increasingly varied chortles, growls and squeaks express a lot without actual words. It’s quite a nice time now, when she’ll go exploring to a corner of the house for twenty minutes, then come back to find me, have a cuddle or a game, and then go off again. It’s like a little boomerang pinging round the place.
This month I’m in hibernation mode as the coldness continues, so I’m staying in the warm with Otter, in between trips to the allotment and trying to keep the chicken run from turning into a mud pit. I managed to strap down a tarpaulin roof for them, which they clucked a lot about and went to hide in their house while I was doing it. I’ve added two extra hens to my brood, which has boosted the egg production, but it’s amazing how much extra food they go through, and the extra pooh they produce.
We might be adding a couple of tortoises to live in our garden too, we shall see. I’m still learning about reptile care, but something decorative and low maintenance appeals. They could have a little house under the trampoline. They’re not as messy as rabbits and you don’t get the emotional fallout with the children when they die after a few years. I can still remember the trauma as a child when my Guinee Pigs died.
In fact, the tortoises are more likely to outlive us.