No lick and other new rules

FullSizeRenderMy dog ate another dummy. She likes to eat the nipple, and tends to leave the evidence in clear view of the back door.

I found this one when I went outside for a poop run. We live in London, so when I say ‘garden’ I may as well say ‘grassy verge’. I don’t know what made us think having our own lawn would be a good thing. I guess we had pictures of picnic rugs and sunshine, and the baby rolling around joyfully in the sun. Did I say we have a dog? And a very small area of lawn? Let’s just say the reality is far from the lush, green dream-lawn in my head.

It’s usually my hubby’s job to pick up poop, but he was away for the week so I found myself outside, barefoot, trying to pick my way through wet grass without stepping in shit. I honestly don’t know how our dog Molly isn’t dead. I count four poops overnight. Four. My brain cannot even.

She likes to watch me when I’m out there, balanced on the balls of my feet. Holding her shit in a bag. One time she actually took a dump while I was there. Like ‘oh, right. You’re doing that now. Let me help you out’.

I took the chewed up dummy inside to show her and she lowered her head and crept off to her bed. Aha! I thought, she feels guilty! But she circled a few times and curled up all snug and cute, so I threw the dummy in the bin and gave her a kiss on the head.

Having a cat was easy. Our first ‘child’ is laid back and big on smooching. Adding a dog was an adjustment, but we all found our groove. Now a baby? It’s doable, definitely, and it’s nice seeing them all interact (meaning the cat stays just out of reach at all times and the dog tries to lick the baby’s mouth). However it does mean we’ve had to introduce some new house rules.

No lick, no lick, no lick (repeat)

Molly loves the baby, and the baby finds Molly increasingly hilarious. I’m watching the start of a beautiful friendship, and it sucker punches me right in the heart.

We were cautious when we brought Teddy home. Introduced everyone slowly. Gave everyone lots of love. Molly went on high alert for the first week or so, calmed down again when she got used to the new addition, and went back on guard duty when the baby started moving about.

There’s just one problem. Babies taste really good. Especially weaning babies. Milk and food and sick and general pong and it’s a canine buffet.

Right up there with ‘you’re okay’ (said to baby a thousand times a day when he falls over/knocks his head/catches his fingers in something) is now ‘no lick Molly NO LICK’.

We’re doing okay I think. The licking is no longer constant, and only happens when they greet each other in the morning, when we come back to the house after being out, after meals, when the baby laughs, if the cat won’t play, if the dog wants to play, if the baby uses the dog to stand and is a bit rough, if the baby cries, if the baby falls over, and whenever I say ‘no lick’.

It’s all relative I guess. I caught baby chewing on the dog the other day. His immune system is going to be amazing. For now we’ll stick with ‘no lick’. Repetition usually works right?

Protect Sophie

Sophie is a giraffe. Before you have a baby, and unless you know someone with kids, you won’t ever have heard of her. And if you’re anything like me, someone will gift her to you and you’ll be like ‘oh okay. A rubber giraffe toy. A bit random, but cool’.

And then you’ll see Sophie. EVERYWHERE. And you’ll learn that you must have a Sophie. Everyone has a Sophie.

But you know who wants Sophie most of all? Your dog.

When baby was smaller, and Sophie was in the cot instead of dangling by the neck from the side of the stroller, it wouldn’t matter where Molly was. If I squeezed Sophie, or if I made her squeak, Molly was right there, looking intensely at this new rubber squeaky toy. She’d snuffle feverishly between the bars of the cot, hunting Sophie down. And if I held her up? All bets were off.

I had to work quite hard to desensitize Molly. Now it’s just dummies and the odd wooden block I find outside. I watched her give hanging-Sophie a sniff the other day, and she kept walking. She really is quite good with all the new flashing-beeping-squeaking things in the house too.

But Lego? That’s a completely different story.

Beware the cat’s butt

Hands up who has a cat. You must watch this link now by Adam Ellis:

I saw this years ago and thought yes, this is what it means to have a cat. Now add a toddler’s face/feet/hands/mouth on every surface and you get where I’m going.

Ziggy isn’t allowed on kitchen benches, the dining table, in the play pen, or in the baby’s cot. So of course this is where I sometimes find him. He knows too, the little bugger.

I’ll walk into the nursery with a load of folded washing, and I’ll spot him (he’s black) on the clean white sheets of the cot. Stretched out casually and comfortably where he should not be. He’ll look up sleepily, realisation will hit, his eyes will widen, and we’ll stare at each other. I think he hopes one day I’ll say ‘oh go on then, it does look really comfy in there’. But I don’t, because it means I have to change the sheets. Again. ‘Ziggy!’ I shout, and he scampers. And the next morning I find very faint paw prints on the kitchen counter, and he looks at me smugly from his cat tree and I think who would have a cat.

Until he gives me a little head-bump late at night when I’m sat exhausted on the couch watching telly. Or he chirps, eye-blinks hello and purrs when I get the spot he likes under his collar. And when the baby crash tackles him to the floor for a hug-gone-wrong and he doesn’t bite or scratch and I think who wouldn’t have a cat.

Vacuum every day

Like I don’t have enough to do. It’s not really a rule. More like a goal?

We have a cocker spaniel – working type, just like Kate & Will’s. Well, it would have been. I’d decided on black or chocolate brown, except I brought home the first puppy I saw which I swore to my husband I would not do. She’s black and white, lovely natured, and I’m certain she sheds her entire coat every month.


I picked the breed because they’re a great family dog, they like exercise (running companion), they’re smallish, and they’re a medium shedder.

Medium shedder. I’d hate to see what a heavy shedder is!

We used to get Molly hand stripped so she looked ‘proper’. Get rid of the wool to leave a nice top coat. And she did look lovely. Then we’d be sat on the couch of an evening watching telly and we’d spot a little tumbleweed hairball roll by. How?! We’d spend the morning vacuuming and mopping, and go so far as to wash the pet’s bedding and move the couch to vacuum under (I KNOW). And that little hairball would still appear. To mock us. To make visitors think we never clean. To provide bub with that temporary beard you never wanted him to have.

Now? Shaved. All of it. When it grows back in she looks like a sheep (the wool is out of control), but she’s very cuddly and soft. Almost makes the white wool-fur stuck to everything worth it.

And don’t get me started on mopping every day. Pet flaps are great. For muddy floors, and finding dog bones inside (MOLLY!). For the baby to get his hand/arm/torso stuck in. For pushing through shoes and toys and tea towels. Because the pet flap is the best. Game. Ever.

Don’t eat the cat

Teddy has recently become very ‘huggy’ with the pets. He likes to stand alongside the dog, fist of fur in each hand to balance, and lean down with his cheek against her back. She’s very patient bless her, and happily lets him do it. They both seem to enjoy it, and even when he pats her afterwards (hits her repeatedly over the head, which we’re working on), her tail never stops wagging.

Baby likes ‘kissing’ the pets too. Not in the traditional puckered-lips sense though. He likes to give an open-mouth version, with occasional lick thrown in for good measure. It’s actually very sweet, and he reserves this type of affection for the dog and the cat. I generally get the tantrums and tears, and daddy gets laughter and pats on the back (baby’s started copying us when we do this to him). Go figure.

Anyhow I realised we may have an issue with all this cuddling-and-kissing-the-pets malarkey when I found cat hair in baby’s nappy. Less alarming than the time he ate banana for the first time and had those wriggly black things appear the next morning, but still. I know that pet hair gets EVERYWHERE so I kind of expected it.

The other problem we have is while Molly loves a bit of rough play with the baby, and is patient while he learns, the cat does not appreciate a bop to the head with a toy. He doesn’t appreciate grubby toddler hands in his fur, or the baby stealing his cat biscuits.

Luckily Ziggy is mostly fast enough to stay out of reach for now. When baby does give him a ‘kiss’ it’s usually an air-kiss, and the cat is gone before he can show any more ‘love’. What I really need is for Ziggy to give bub a good swipe and scare him off. For now though we’ll have to stick with ‘don’t hurt Ziggy’ and ‘be gentle!’ and ‘run Ziggy, RUN, for the love of God get out of the way!’ Poor Ziggy.

Food enjoyed is food shared

Baby took to weaning really well, and recently let me know (very loudly and with much arm flapping) that he didn’t want formula anymore. He eats two or three portions of each meal at nursery, loves yoghurt, and doesn’t mind if I give him half a plain bagel for supper every now and then (because I’m a working mummy and sometimes I’m tired and I know he’ll eat the bagel). We do a mix of baby-led and baby-ready-meals. And while he’s not a fan of most vegetables, I’ve got him eating olives, hummus and falafel, so we’re doing okay.

What I didn’t anticipate was how interested in this whole process Molly would be. And when I say interested I mean: learning the phrase ‘do you want something to eat’ before the baby did; bouncing around madly each time I pick up the little Darth Vader backpack I use for snacks when we’re out and about; and sitting patiently under the highchair at every meal waiting for me to give her the ‘okay’ to hoover up the mess.

We’ve had a few gentle comments that Molly is a bit thick around the middle, and we’ve cut down her biscuits. But man if she isn’t eating the best she has in her whole life! Biscuits or bread sticks with a one lick for you, one lick for me flavour. Spaghetti bolognaise and risotto and tuna. All the things she shouldn’t have that Teddy loves throwing, like cheese and grapes. Leftovers when mummy and daddy don’t want to deal with the scraps. So. Much. Good. Food.

So while we are keeping an eye on how much she eats, we appreciate that there will be times Teddy shares his food when we’re not looking. And there will be days when getting her to lick a plate clean before I rinse it and put it in the dishwasher, keeps me sane. Because the added benefit of having a dog and a baby? Molly is so good at cleaning food from the floor, hoovering spilled milk, and clearing food from the high chair when we’re done.

Note: while I do use having a dog to my advantage re: all things spilled, I’m quite handy with surface spray and a cloth afterwards. It’s called balance.

No nappies on the floor

We use reusable nappies, and I love them. They’re a total pest to clean now that I’m working, and I usually end up with a stack of dirty ones from nursery to rinse at the end of the week, but I feel like I’m doing some good. And there really isn’t anything quite as cute as a big fabric nappy bum on a baby.

One day though, not long ago, I changed baby’s nappy in my bedroom instead of the nursery. I can’t remember why, but I had him laid on the bed, and before I put the clean nappy on I put the dirty one, carefully folded over, on the floor. I think I had to change bub’s clothing, so I left the nappy where it was, and we went to the nursery.

When I came back in, the nappy was gone. It didn’t take long to find it, dragged into the ensuite. Molly had licked the whole thing pretty much clean. I feel sick even thinking about it. The lambswool nappy liner was nearby, also licked clean. Molly was looking rather pleased with herself, and she wandered back over to have another go.

Needless to say there was definitely ‘NO LICKING’ for the rest of that day. And we no longer leave nappies on the floor.

*shudders remembering

I’m sure I could come up with a bunch more house rules. Our little family is a work in progress, and we’re learning as we go along. As much as I joke though, and as frustrating as it can be, I love watching Ted develop a love of animals through his relationship with our own.

And my house really isn’t that messy, most days. Lots of laundry, lots of love, and a lot of licks seems to sum us up pretty nicely.

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