O Tannenbaum, O what the hell…?

Whatever I said in my last post, you might as well discount it all. Our household has sunk well and truly into a fuzzy, pre-Xmas fug. I can’t even blame it all on the microbe because I’m starting to feel prematurely festive myself and it’s only going to get worse from here.  On Saturday we’re planning a jaunt to Winchester (aka the most christmassy town in Britain).

Last weekend the boybot’s Santa suit arrived from Tesco, in readiness for the nursery play. I made the schoolgirl error of letting him see it, along with a vague instruction to “leave it alone until the play”.

Who was I kidding?

It took about 30 seconds before he snuck off to his room and rustled about suspiciously. When G and I investigated, we found that he’d donned the whole ensemble by himself and was parading about in front of his wardrobe mirror.

So we threw care to the wind and gave him a cardboard box to use as a sleigh…


NB: this year the role of Rudolph will be played by teddy…


In other pre-festive ramblings, I’ve gone a bit blank over what sort of cards to make with the microbe this year. He’s 100% craft mad but I have to come up with something suitably easy for a 3 year old. Last year we glued on felt shapes but I need my thinking cap for a new idea…

IMG_3084I spotted a nifty 3D card idea on Pinterest and had a go at making one as a throwaway amusement for the boy. Alas, he was insufficiently whelmed.

“Mummy, why hasn’t it got any tinsel?”
“Not all trees have tinsel”
“And why hasn’t it got baubles?”
“And why hasn’t it got any chocolates on it?”
“Oh, for the love of…  what do you mean, chocolates?”

Here dawned an unexpectedly spirited conversation regarding chocolates on Christmas trees, which culminated in G announcing: “I shall be putting my foot down on this“.  (Apparently it’s bordering on child abuse not to cover your tree in Cadbury).

Fair enough, though I have no idea how we’ll regulate the eating of these chocolates. I fully anticipate trudging out of bed on day two and finding a chocolate-smeared boy skulking under the tree amid a pile of wrappers.

Still, things could be a lot worse…

This week someone asked me to re-tweet a link to these lovelies which are being peddled on a website called Give Lynda her Last Christmas.


Because what every Xmas tree needs is a clear plastic bauble containing an oxo cube, yes?

I was compelled to share this exciting news with G, who immediately asked “Who is Lynda and why is someone raising funds for a hit on her in the new year?

Then he added “I’m still confused as to how an oxo bauble will bring her back from the dead to enjoy the festivities”  (We share the same brain, dear reader.)

But, fear not, all is made clear on the website.

“By hanging this bespoke bauble on your tree this year, Lynda will be a part of all of our family’s Christmas. Although her wish, will not quite be fulfilled, she will be remembered in style this Christmas”

“In style”, I tell you! So get buying. It’s what she would have wanted.

Yes, alright, I know I’m going to hell. But, in all seriousness, that website looks more than a little scammy to me.  The header states “£1 for every bauble will be donated to Action against charity.” Action against charity, you say?

And, even if you give their typos the benefit of the doubt, googling “Action Against Cancer” leads to a dead web link. So I’d suggest that anyone interested might like to donate their bauble money to Cancer Research instead

Lynda-baubleFor anyone still tempted, there’s more! The same person also tweeted these, which you can buy on eBay!Just think – an entirely Lynda-themed tree could be yours! Hooray for cashing in on someone’s death.

Well, I suppose that’s enough snark and nonsense from me.  So I shall go away and report back when I have something more useful to say.

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So here it is, Merry November

So… apparently it’s not Christmas. If only someone had told the shops about this. Ever since we took the Microbe shopping IN OCTOBER he’s been under the impression that Father Christmas might pop down the chimney at any minute.

Tsk. It’s not as if I am even a grinchey person. I’m a bit of a Christmas-a-holic myself but I do at least try to keep things under wraps until December.

Not so the rest of the  world…

Not only have the nursery microbes been rehearsing their Xmas play for a month, but with each passing week, it’s harder to screen out the 8000 Santas that have popped up all over SW London.  As I type, our local Xmas lights-switching shebang is going on.  This always draws a big crowd and involves a christmas market, grotto, fairground rides and so on.  G and I were in two minds about whether to take the Microbe along after nursery or stealth him home unawares.  (I am afraid to say, dear blog, that the allure of a Chinese takeaway has won the day and we snuck off home without a thought of festivity – but we’ll make it up to him in prawn crackers)

In other news, the deadline for submitting school applications is fast approaching. The three schools that are within immediate walking distance of our flat are all wildly oversubscribed and, so far, we’ve visited two of them. The third has been spectacularly unhelpful and will have to remain a mystery school.

Thanks to bloody OFSTED the one that has been top of my list for the Microbe since birth has suddenly been jettisoned to the top of everyone else’s list too, after getting an “outstanding” last year (tsk).It’s the only community school in the area and has 60 places, half of which  to siblings and the rest based on proximity.  You’d think that a 4-minute walk would count as sufficient proximity, but in our baby-boomer ‘hood this gives us about a 50/50 chance.

Last week we were shown around the school by a 9-year-old Hermione Grainger who informed us earnestly that “bullying would never happen here” (bless!)  We were left with the impression of a magical little bubble of safety and liberal values. Also they have lots of nice extra curricular stuff and their ethos is all about ensuring that every child is confident, included and valued.

Our #2 school also takes in 60 per year and got an OFSTED of “good” a few years back.  We went to an open evening and it seemed ok. Not quite as lovely and magical as the first one but I think we’d be happy enough if the ‘crobe got in there.  (It does have the best uniform  – bright red & black)

Mystery School #3 has no options for open days or visits and presumably coasts along on its “Outstanding” rating.  It has twice as many places as the other two but still gets hugely oversubscribed (not helped that quite a few places are reserved for church-goers and siblings.)

Anyway they’re all probably fine. We’ll just have to hope that we meet the proximity rules for at least one of them.  It will be a MAJOR pain if we get shunted out to some other school that’s miles away.  However – given that reception year is really just an extension of nursery, I am not finding myself overly concerned. There’s also a chance that we might move house at some point and have to go through this whole process again before school becomes a serious matter.

Oh dear – that was a dull old ramble, wasn’t it?  I really didn’t intend to waffle so much.

I shall go away now and leave with the news that the boybot is to be known colloquially as “James Chocolate Masters“. This is courtesy of one of his nursery homies who can’t say his real name.

James has decided that G’s name must therefore be “Daddy Chocolate Masters“.  (I can see this catching on)


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Children in Greed

Good evening dear blog. I see it has been over a month since my last confession. I’ve been mentally storing up all manner of amusing anecdotes but have lacked the impetus to write any of them down. As a result, most of it has now faded into the ether, which reminds me why I bother to write this blog in the first place.

My photography mojo has been on vacation too, so I’m just going to have to use my motley collection of iPhone pics as memory joggers for what the hell we’ve been up to in the last month.

I shall start with this week, in which the microbe came home from nursery wearing a black eye. We’d been pre-warned by phone, so it wasn’t too much of a shock to see him but it was one hell of a swollen shiner. The official story is that he walked face-first into a tray of water cups that a member of staff was carrying in the opposite direction. (J’s slightly edited version is that

Name redacted hit me with the water tray.” [afterthought] “by accident

Hee! Still, no harm done. But I never imagined that my spindly workhouse oik was capable of looking like such a bruiser.  Here’s how it looked a few days on, after the swelling had gone and I finally got round to snapping it for posterity…

Black eye2

In other nursery news, the microbe brought home a painting the other day of a brown house with a lollipop-stick roof. I gushed duly, as befitting my role:

“Oh, how lovely, You’ve painted a house!”
“It’s not a house mummy, it’s a mud hut!”
“Oh, is it?”
“Yes” [solemn face]. “Not everybody has money like us, mummy”

God bless that nursery, I salute them for teaching him this information. A few days later it was pyjama day “for the children who are in need“, which triggered another little exchange.

“Daddy, am I a child in need?”
[SNORT] “No, you’re a child in pyjamas.”

(L’esprit d’escalier made him wish he’d said “no, you’re a child in greed“.  Being unable to waste such a splendid pun, I have honoured it in this title instead.)

So – what else have we been up to?

I can barely remember. I think I shall just have to run through a load of stuff pictorially…

I’m afraid we’ve been VERY remiss with the allotment lately. I think I need to go along tomorrow and clear the leaves and sort out the plot out with some low maintenance things that can tick along until Spring.  Our last visit was pretty much the end of the summer harvest…


At some point during October we had to send the microbe into nursery dressed as a favourite book or film character. As luck would have it, I managed to convince him with very little effort that being Fox in Socks for the second year running would be splendiferous.  So in he went..



October also had hallowe’en in it, which meant another nursery requirement to dress up. Once again, I failed to buy the boybot a new outfit so he had to go in wearing last year’s get-up – are you spotting a theme here?

It looked fine, really, as long as your eye didn’t drift toward the three inches of jeans that were visible below the bottom of the Dracula trousers… (lets assume nobody noticed).


We also carved a pumpkin. Our neighbourhood has a tame tradition of trick-or-treating, in which small groups of tiny children knock politely and collect sweets from homes with pumpkins outside, while a parent hovers sheepishly at every gate post.  It never occurred to me to send the boybot off on this activity, but I did suspect that he’d love answering the door.

This turned out to be an understatement. The hour between 6 and 7pm passed in a blur of outright glee, pattering feet and shrieks of “TRICK OR TREATERS!!” every time the door went.  Suffice to say Dracklia distributed sweets into the buckets of every little girl in St Margarets.  (And a few into his mouth). Bless.


Around 7pm he opened the door to the last lot. Having expected the usual gaggle of five-year-olds – he was immediately dumb-struck to be confronted by a trio of teenage girls apparently dressed up as witch-prostitutes.  He silently handed out sweets, and the girls grunted back with that special brand of teenage charm.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the microbe so tongue-tied and befuddled.  G told him that he may as well get used to it. (In his experience, there will NEVER come a time when the boy is not awkward and pained in the company of teenage girls.)

In domestic news, G has finally worked out how to captivate the Boybot with construction games. Every now and then the two of them get out the lego or the Marble Run, which has so many pieces that G ends up concocting gigantic, complex runs stretching from the fireplace to halfway across the room, via stairs and spinny things.  These usually make me go “wow!” …and manage to hold the microbe’s interest for approximately 18 seconds.

Not so their latest creation.  Behold the Pooing Alpaca. BEST CONSTRUCTION EVER.


This involves feeding marbles into the alpaca’s head and watching as they travel to the gut and go round and round about 12 times, before dropping into the poo hatch and finally landing in the “toilet”.  I think this is known as jumping the shark.

In more recent news, we visited our friend Sara in Frome last weekend. It’s v. pretty where Sara lives, in a three-story cottage in the conservation area, right next to the crafty, antique-lined Catherine Hill. Suffice to say, we mooched. A major part of the excitement for J was having an excuse to sleepover in Helena’s Disney Princess ready-bed.  He slept like a log… we might get him a ready bed of his own at some point.

On the Sunday we dashed to Sainsburys to see if they had emergency microbe-wellies and discovered that they’ve got a really nice range of Gruffalo-themed stuff in. The boybot now has Gruffalo wellies and pyjamas.  The wellies were for a gloriously pretty and muddy walk in some nearby woodland. While we adults cooed over the autumn hues and dappled light on the water, the boybot was mostly excited by the idea that the wood might be concealing Gruffalos and crocodiles (and stuffing a croissant into his mouth).

As you can see, we’d had him freshly shorn for the weekend…

Sara and James_1

Sara and James_2


Last, but not least, here be a few pics from this afternoon. We visited Granny & Pops in Ruislip, ostensibly for lunch, but followed by a surprise visit to Bekonscot, a gorgeous model village a few miles away.  (I think this is where they filmed the Miss Mouse scenes on C-Beebies).

The microbe LOVED it and I’d recommend it to anyone with a three year old. I think we’ll probably go again on a sunny day – possibly with a bigger child-horde.









I shall depart with the breaking news that the boybot has been cast as Father Christmas in the Xmas play at nursery.  (It seems they’re going with a secular theme this year). I’m surprised they didn’t cast him as a reindeer, given his obsession with non-humanoid life forms, but he seems happy about it. Also his little BFF Sam is playing Rudolph, which is a perfect pairing.

Last year’s nativity play was utterly shambolic and the boybot only appeared on stage 2 mins before the end, wearing a floppy, malfunctioning star costume. (I might have to do better this year if he’s playing Father C.)

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In the land of grot, the one one-eyed pig is king

Dear internet, I’m going to need to hire a PA in order to get through October’s insane nursery schedule. Any takers?

Here’s what you’ll be in charge of:

  • Tue 7th: Photographer day*. Bring a special outfit for them to wear.
  • Wed 8th: Pottery day. Pay £35 and paint a platter. (£35!!!)
  • Tue 14th: Crazy hair day.  (Suggestions on a postcard please)
  • Wed 15th: Sporty day. Dress in sportswear for races in the garden. (Does the microbe look like someone who owns sportswear?)
  • Fri 17th: Dress-up day.  Come dressed up as a favourite character from a book or film. (Might have to recycle Fox in Socks for this one)
  • Thur 23rd: Diwali celebration + parents evening  (What – no outfit?)
  • Fri 24th: Welsh day. Come dressed as a dragon or in the colours of the Welsh flag.
  • Fri 31st:  Confusion Day.  This appears to be both Green Day (“come dressed in green”) and Halloween (“come dressed in a halloween costume for a special tea party”).  I have no idea whether these are meant to be one and the same outfit.

*Photographer Day is when they get a professional photographer in to do studio-style shots of all the kids. (Alas the resulting pics always make him look like someone else’s child, so I never buy any of them.)

On a different topic, I’ve started dithering over what sort of winter coat to buy for the microbe. I’ve even made a Pinterest Board. (I know…. if I weren’t me I would totally be pointing and laughing at me). You wouldn’t believe how many dreary Liam Gallgher-ish parkas and bright orange Tellytubby coats I’ve had to wade though in order to locate these thin pickings.

Yesterday I was leaning towards the Debenhams red puffa jacket. But today I’m preferring the grey duffle from Vertbaudet (or maybe the same one in Don’t Look Now red). Opinions welcome…

Moving on, it has become apparent that the microbe, and all of his nursery pals, are suddenly obsessed with superheroes. If the Jimbot had his way he’d go to nursery every day wearing a superman t-shirt, spiderman underpants and batman socks. (I blame the dads because, as far as I can tell, none of these kids have ever actually seen or read anything starring Superman or Batman or Spiderman).


In honour of the newfound obsession I have procured some iron-on superhero patches and am planning to turn a pair of ruined jeans into BEST JEANS EVER this weekend by patching up a knee-hole with Batman.

Later this month Jimmy will be starting a Saturday morning drama club at the local Gymboree, leading to a Lion King inspired performance in December. (As you may deduce, I’ve decided to give rugby child abuse a miss).  The grand plan is that G and I will drop him off each week and go for a glorious fry-up or eggs royale at one of the local cafes while the boybot prances around being Pumbaa. (I wonder how quickly we’ll resort to prodding one another out of bed to lug him to drama so that the other one can roll over and go back to sleep?)

In prep for drama lessons, G and I continue to feed him lines at every opportunity and send him off to repeat them to the other.

Go and help daddy in the kitchen and say “I’m your little hinderer”
Go and tell mummy “I can’t find my shoes because I did a man-look”

In cheery news,  someone has been feeding angel pills to the Microbe. He’s been an insanely good boy over the last few weeks. He’s eating whatever we give him, going to bed early and generally giving us no trouble or tantrums.

I swear it’s all down to lack of treats. Last weekend he played happily all by himself while G and I got on with a big clear out. I think he rather enjoyed dividing his time between being Mister Maker (he now has a ‘craft drawer’) and rummaging through my giveaway bags reclaiming all of the forgotten toys and books that I was quietly stealthing into them. *doh!*

Lesson in life: never try to get rid of toys or books while the microbe is awake. It is a task of Sisyphus, like trying to tidy up while he walks behind me getting everything back out again.

On a similar note, never let a 3 year old do their own shopping. The disparity between what a parent would choose and what the child actually wants is hilarious. Hand-painted wooden toys, anyone? Educational construction kits? Forget it! Given freedom to spend money from his piggy bank, the Microbe’s recent toyshop purchases include:

This truly vile plastic cow whose eyes bulge when you squeeze it…


This similarly horrible one-eyed plastic pig that develops obscene bulgy growths when squeezed.


Admittedly I don’t think my own taste was any better at his age. (I have a distinct memory of my mother using the blanket term “grot” to refer to anything purchased by me.)


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We stoop to conker

Good evening, dear blog. I write to you from the 7th circle of hell that is my hormones. I have managed to avoid committing genocide or anything like that but, suffice to say, it’s probably best that you haven’t heard from me for a while.

So – rather than rave on like a scary psycho lady, I shall simply share a few oddments of randomness that are passing through my mind.

First of all – another snippet from The Book of ‘Crobe.

“Do you want to see my fart?”
“Your what?”
“Fart. Look. This is where my fart is” *thumps chest*
“Do you mean heart?”
“Yes! Heart. This is where my heart is”

(Thank you, Stretch & Grow, for the continued anatomy lessons)

In other news, it is the season of gorgeousness. There are not words for how I love autumn.  So far the boy appears to have collected his entire body weight in conkers. So we’ve strung a few up on our fireplace, and the rest are kicking around the flat making themselves inconvenient and waiting for the next shipment to arrive.

conkers3 IMG_2885

The boybot has also been helping me every week to harvest the fruits of our mini-allotment and his favourite phrase is “I’m your little helper!” (This also comes out when he’s helping daddy with the bins). Bless.

IMG_2817 IMG_2853   Open_Day_11

I’ve also spent an hour today adorning our residence with the latest output of brightly-coloured daubs that don’t look like what they look like. This was a result of nursery sending home an entire year’s worth of the microbe’s artwork in one go.


I found it quite amusing to sift through the art wad. You can see that they go a bit craft-mad around Halloween and bonfire night, and on festivals like Diwali, Chinese New Year and St Patrick’s Day.  (They’re also very fond of paper plates).

But what I really want to rave about are these kids’ art frames. Seriously – if you have kids, you need one of these frames. I’ve just ordered a couple more on Amazon, to accommodate some of the output.


In other nursery news, James’s graceless rabble of a cohort is now (amazingly) the equivalent of a load of prefects. They rule the school.  Alas, someone seems to have forgotten to applique ‘T-Birds’ and ‘Pink Ladies’ onto the back of their polo shirt uniforms.

They’ve now been joined by the new intake of 2-year-olds from the baby room, which means that James has had to get used to being chomped on again (we’re averaging two bites per week). It doesn’t seem to bother him very much but it amuses me no end when I ask who bit him and he says “little Alice” or “little Matthew“.

Last, but not least, sufferers of my recent posts will be glad to hear that it’s been ages since I even thought about toilet training…  so I guess that means we’re done. (Hooray, we all cry!)  Obviously by typing this I am ensuring the return of plastic-bags-of-shame…

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Don’t go breaking my bones

Lately, when the Microbe hears something that displeases him (e.g. the words “no” or “bathtime“) his reaction is to do a sort of Quasimodo tap dance of protest on the spot, coupled with a noise that sounds like “nnnnngggggggeeeeeuuuuuuuuuu!“.

Is this a well-known thing or do I need to send him back for repairs?

In other news, we appear to have signed him up for every single extracurricular activity that nursery has to offer. (It seems we are those parents). His current offerings include:

  • Theatre Bugs. I have no idea what they get up to as the boylet’s feedback has been unintelligible from day one, though he sometimes sings tuneless dirges in the bath after each session.   

  • Stretch and Grow. This is vaguely sport-related and teaches them about their bodies. He’s been doing it for yonks and the only discernible side effect has been that he comes home once a week with a stamp on his hand. (Except for the other day when he told me where his spine was and announced that his tummy is full of “abdominos“)   
  • Toddler French. This starts next week. I’m guessing they must have talked about it today at nursery because he came home and told me “Mummy, my class is called French and I will be saying Ola!

Meanwhile, one of my NCT friends has signed her boy up for toddler rugby at weekends and I am still debating whether it would be character-building or child-abuse to sign up my spindly, unsporting little waiflet for the same. (I think I’m coming down on the side of child abuse.)

He’s far happier getting his groove on. He’s had a go on a couple of electric keyboards recently at relatives’ houses and last weekend I heard him ad-libbing a blues track with these lyrics

“I went to the park
And met a dog
I picked up a conker
And put it in my scooter bag…”

(Don’t give up the day job, Otis).

If you want further proof, here’s his best Elton John impersonation… (covering that lesser known album track, Banana) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEWLlIAXAMs

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News of the morning

This morning I was greeted by the following announcement:

“Mummy! Mummy! My bottom isn’t a ticking time-bomb!”
“Oh, isn’t it?”
“No! Because I did a poo poo on the toilet!”

Splendid news indeed.

This is hot on the heels of pig-gate, in which the boybot managed to drop his furry pig down the loo at Grandma’s  (before flushing). I groaned and eye-rolled and sent him away, only to overhear the following earnest little exchange in the hallway:

“Helena, I dropped my piggy in the wee-wee”
“Why did you do that?”
“Because I’m a walking distaster”

(Well, at least he has self-knowledge.)


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