Rage against the machine

Last night the boybot went to sleep clutching a bag of buttons in his loving hand. I kid you not.

buttonsThe buttons in question were these forest animal ones that he’d found in my sewing box and pounced upon with glee and insisted on taking to bed with him. Before he fell asleep he announced that the skunk is is favourite, followed by the fox and then the deer.

To him, I suppose there’s no discernible difference between these and the tiny playmobil animals that he loves. One miniscule piece of animal shaped plastic is as good as another, yes?

I’d actually forgotten all about these buttons. My sewing box is a VOID of good intentions and most things that go into it fail to resurface for many a year…

But – this morning, in a fit of whimsy, I retrieved them from James’s bed and spent my District Line commute replacing the ones from one a neglected cardigan with these.  (This might now become his BEST CARDIGAN EVER …for a week or two).


On a related note, I had an inspiring chat last week with a crafty pal who has been stamping custom designs onto onesies for her baby-to-be. This reminded me that I’ve been quite uncrafty for a while but had long been meaning to have another go at customising some t-shirts for Things 1 and 2.

So – I dredged my fabric stash back out of the loft on Sunday and drew a few simple animal applique designs, heavily aided by Google clip art searches. Everything started well and I enjoyed making the patches. The frustrating bit came when I realised that my sewing machine was possessed by a fabric-hating demon from hell.

Not only did it chew up and ruin my favourite of the t-shirts by making holes in it – but it had minor wobblies on the other two as well and kept snapping the thread every 5 seconds and made my edge-stitching look irregular. In fact the only thing that it did a sterling job of was making the air blue. I was entirely unfit to be within earshot of microbes. Thank god the boybot fell asleep and the girlbot can’t understand English yet.

Still…  with the blessed undiscerning joy of a 3 year-old, Jimmy loves the t-shirts anyway. He’s disappointed by the holes in the narwhal shirt but was delighted to be allowed to wear it to bed – and he chose the hippo one to wear to nursery today.

As for me, I’ve discovered that that it’s well worth airing one’s crafty failings on Facebook, if you happen to have creative sewing gurus on your friends list. Thanks to some helpful feedback I have realised that:

a) Jersey fabrics are inherently evil – hence I should have used a layer of interfacing or tissue paper on the inside of the t-shirt when doing the edge stitching. I’d forgotten that I used interfacing on the inside last time and it worked much better. (I blame baby brain – I really shouldn’t be allowed near machinery right now.)

b) If I’d thought of it, I could have covered up the little holes in the narwhal shirt by adding some additional applique undersea bubbles.  I might still do this, actually, if I stop sulking and find the inclination. Otherwise it’s doomed to reside in the pyjama drawer for ever.

I do hope that I’ve now learned enough lessons about applique, so that my third attempt may turn out less shonky.  Otherwise I won’t be held responsible for my next bout of sewing machine rage. (The speed at which it can transform an otherwise peaceful, happy person into a mouth-foaming, homicidal maniac puts it on a par with printer rage, in my book).

In less mouth-frothing news, the boy and I made shredded wheat easter nests at the weekend. These are a mass of Cadbury badness, hence daddy and I can’t stop eating them.  (They’re nothing more than crumbled up shredded wheat mixed with a large block of melted Dairy Milk… + mini eggs on top).



So far there appears to be no mention of Easter bonnets in this week’s nursery newsletter. I don’t trust them though. They usually like to spring these things on us with an 8-second warning. Last year I ended up shrieking at around 11pm the night before and making one frantically out of paper… which turned out to be 8 sizes too small for the boy’s head.

Obviously I should have snuck into his room and measured his head, but I reckon my mistake was exacerbated by my belief that the boy has quite a little head compared with a lot of microbes. I swear some small children are made up of 50% head, 50% body.

When the boybot was two I bought him a pair of kiddie headphones so that he could watch The Lion King and other such nonsense on his iPad when daddy and I wanted some “quiet time”.  But they turned out to be bigger than I expected and, even on their most compact setting, would only stay up on his head if we wedged a pair of socks under the headband.

A year on, he’s now big enough to wear them without the socks – but his level of imprinting is such that he objects to the very idea of sockless headphoning. Hence here is is last night, watching Animals United with an entirely surplus pair of socks perched on top of his head.

Each to their own…



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From the bottom of my pencil case

Pondering baby names is fun – but I could do without a royal baby being due in the same month as Thing 2.

It was bad enough with the Microbe when we had to rule out William because we feared their wedding would result in a mass flurry of Williams. Now they’re sprogging in the same month as us and somebody has drawn my attention to the bookies’ favourites for the royal baby name*

Alice 3/1
Elizabeth 5/1
Charlotte 11/2
Richard 10/1
James 12/1
Victoria 12/1 

Tsk. Not only is one of those names already taken by Monsieur Crobe, but another two are on our not-yet-ruled-out list for Thing 2. (Personally I think it’s time for the royals to modernise and go with Jayden or Chardonnay, depending on what flavour they get.)

Meanwhile the boybot desperately wants a ‘Big Brother’ T-shirt to wear when Thing 2 is born. I assume this is something he’s seen other boys wearing at nursery. G and I were vaguely hoping to find something Orwellian on the internet but a cursory search has proven fruitless. Surely someone out there must be churning out dystopian t-shirts for small children?  (I do have some leftover sheets of t-shirt transfer paper – but my previous attempts with it have all turned out a bit shonky.)


* NB: no, I’m afraid I can’t explain myself. You’ll just have to treat my interest in this topic as a form of temporary, pregnancy-induced insanity. 



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Meanwhile back on the farm

Anyone who spends a lot of time around 3 year olds must have a very high tolerance for pedantic nerdery. There is no stickler like a pre-schooler on their specialist topic. If they’re not reciting the entire script of Frozen word-for-word, they’ll be at pains to correct you on precisely how a train engine works. And woe betide the careless parent who paraphrases the words to their favourite story.

In the world of Jamesy Attenborough, the chief topic of nerdery rarely changes, but seems to have progressed beyond “I really love aardvarks” into a litany of fact recitals:

“Daddy, a baboon is a monkey but a gorilla is an ape, because it has no tail!” 
“Narwhals live in the icy waters of Canada, don’t they mummy?”  (Er….)
“I know an animal that can jump three metres high!”  (a Lynx, apparently)

He’s nothing but a sponge right now, especially for information that you didn’t realise he was paying attention to, which makes it impossible to converse in front of him.  I suspect most of his animal ‘facts’ are coming from endless re-watchings of The Lion King, plus a fair few from a little reference book that his Auntie Cathy bought him ages ago.

Occasionally his love of jargon leads to some top comedy moments, such as this weekend when the boy pointed at a parkload of people running a half-marathon and said:

“Daddy, that’s called a stampede!”

I’ll never again be able to refer to a marathon as anything other than a stampede.

G blames my genes for the boybot’s animal-obsession – but I beg to differ. It’s true that I loved animals from an early age but it never stretched much beyond cat-bothering and berating other children for squashing beetles. I think G has to take credit for the boy’s obsessive geekiness about it all.

In any case we’re both frightful enablers. It’s hard not to be when you have a child with such a fanatical interest. This week G has invented a new game to play on walks and car journeys. It’s a variation on I Spy, except you have to think of an animal beginning with a letter, and then give clues…

“I’m thinking of an animal beginning with f”
“it’s a mammal that lives in the desert”
“it has extremely good hearing”
“it’s small, but its ears are very large”
“it might be the cutest thing in the world”

…until someone guesses it.

The microbe LOVES this game, though I think he cheats quite often on his turn by changing his mind about the animal halfway through. (He has no moral compass.)

We also took him back to our local urban farm on Sunday for a spot of seasonal animal-bothering. He’s recently had The Sheep Pig at bedtime, which has reinvigorated his interest in the Babe DVD – hence he found a rather ugly and un-Babe-like pig to fondle at the farm, along with the usual selection of life forms.







I’m still trying to vary Jimmy’s bedtime reading a bit so that it’s not all stories about talking animals. We’re currently on The BFG, which I find a bit disturbing, what with people being eaten alive by giants, but it doesn’t seem to bother the microbe very much. Mostly he seems to find it funny, thanks to all of the silly words that the BFG uses, and he likes the idea that human beans from Wellington taste of boots.

On Saturday we got together with our NCT pals for our third annual easter egg hunt. The weather was chilly but the microbes enjoyed it and had fun making easter crowns.



As usual I took a little video of them running around on their egg hunt and it’s been interesting to watch it alongside the previous two years. (They’re SO diddy in the first one)


clockThis week we’ve been trying a new way to teach the boybot about civilised bedtime hours. It’s tricky because he hasn’t learned to tell the time yet – but I decided to buy this simple little digital clock for his bedroom, with the idea that all he he’d have to do is look at the first number to work out if it’s “morning” or not.

The deal we came up with was as follows:

– If the first number is a 6 or a 7, he can come into our bedroom for a cuddle.
– If it’s anything less than a 6, he has to go back to sleep until later.
(We were not optimistic/delusional enough to make a rule for numbers after 7)

It all sounded marvellously simple to me, but I had underestimated two things…

Firstly, how unrecognisable digital numbers are, when compared with the curvy, simplistic numbers that toddlers are taught to recognise.  It took a while for the boy to get used to what a 6 and a 7 look like in LCD format and he still gets the 2s and 5s mixed up, and the 0s and 8s.

Secondly, the excitement factor of having a new clock. Day one was like Christmas Eve all over again. He couldn’t wait to go to bed with the clock – and then he turned up in our room around 4:26 am.  G and I both happened to be awake with insomnia and were able to explain to him that the 6 he was seeing on his clock was not the first number and therefore he had to go back to bed.  About half an hour later we had a repeat episode and he was most upset to be sent back to his room again. Eventually G popped in to check on him and found him sitting up on top of his covers wide awake and staring at the clock, waiting for the 6 to appear.  (We both felt really bad for the poor devil)

Day two went much better. He turned up at 6:01 am, at which point I pulled him into bed for a cuddle and asked “Have you been lying awake staring at your clock all night?” And he said “No, mummy! I just woke up and my clock said 6!” (Perfect result)

We had similar success on days 3 and 4, with him turning up sometime between 6 and 7am each day. At this point we began to think we’d cracked it…  but this morning I rolled over in bed around 2:30 am and there he was snunggled up beside me. He must have stealthed in like a sleepwalking ninja.

Still..  in the grand scheme of things, I can’t get especially worried about it. I know that lots of parents obsess over their children’s sleeping habits – but, as hardships go, rolling over at night and discovering a tiny, beloved person cuddling up to me doesn’t really make my list. I expect the arrival of thing 2 will change the dynamic so, for now, we’ll just have to see how we get on with this clock business.

In the world of pop music, the boy’s taste is turning out to be eclectic. One minute he’s demanding Rammstein, the next he’s in the bathroom belting out Reach for the Stars by S Club Seven.  How nice it must be to have a fresh and un-jaded mind, in which all music sounds new and exciting.

More alarmingly, he has discovered that whoopee cushions exist. Daddy bought him a kids’ magazine at the weekend that came with a free whoopee cushion and it seems to have amused him no end. (Next stop – The Beano)

In girlbot news, I’ve only got 15 working days left before my maternity leave starts. I’ll never get through all of my work commitments by then, which really bugs me – but I’ll still be glad not to commute in my 9th month.

According to my pregnancy app, Thing 2 is currently around 17 inches long and will be gaining 1/2 pound per week from now on. All I can tell for sure is that she’s using up my entire torso and likes to kick and flail like a crazy person. I’m supposed to book a GP check-up this week but I’m tempted not to bother as I’ve got another scan the week after anyway.

When we were at the farm on Saturday, G and I spotted a little girl wearing a truly gorgeous woollen coat – (the sort of coat that I probably wouldn’t let the girlbot wear to a farm, come to think of it). G knew without asking that I would be eyeing that coat and wondering where it was from. Her mum told me that it was a Ralph Lauren coat that she’d found in a local charity shop – bargainacious!  (Sadly for Thing 2, the chances of her mummy ever buying a Ralph Lauren coat for a 3 year old are slimmer than her big brother’s waistline.)

Not that I haven’t bought her any clothes. I’m only human after all – hence a little corner of Microbe’s wardrobe has been sectioned off to store tiny bodysuits and dungarees and leggings and the sweetest yellow beret imaginable… plus a pair of hand-knitted bootees (thank you, Morticia!)

I went to an NCT nearly new sale the other week in the hope of finding some nice second-hand baby stuff – but was sorely disappointed by other people’s interpretation of “nearly new”. I couldn’t believe the shabby dishrags that people were trying to flog to other parents for inflated sums. Most of it was so faded and creased that you could hardly tell what it was. Would it be such a stretch to imagine that people might iron things and put them on hangers and present them nicely? Not to mention selling things without stains on them. Jeez.

As for baby names, no matter what we say, the Microbe still seems to insist that we’re calling his sister Tabitha (we’re not). Personally I’m regretting that we’ve already used up Harriet on a cat. Tsk. But G and I have a few other names under consideration – and I’m always intrigued by other people’s suggestions.  One of my pals at the weekend suggested Felicity.  That was nowhere near my radar. (Also I think she’d be at risk of G plaguing her often with “Do you feel lucky, punk?“)

Well… I only meant to pop in briefly but that has turned out to be another massive ramblathon. So I shall go away now and say goodnight!


Posted in Life of James, Pictures, Pregnancy & Birth | Leave a comment

Candy girl

Good evening, dear blog. I must say it seems like eons since I was feeling all rosy-eyed and chirpy and full of the joys of second-trimester up the duffage. Now I just feel about 100 years old…

I’m nowhere near as sprightly as I was when James was in here. Mostly I’m just shuffling about breathlessly and relying on Haribo, chocolate, sugary fruit juice and diet coke to make it through the days. Pregnancy gives me a hellishly sweet tooth – and every afternoon I reach a crash point at work when I just want to lay my head down on my desk and sleep for 30 minutes. But – alas – you can’t get away with that in an open plan office,

On desperate days I’ve resorted to zonking out for half an hour in a corner of our Senior Common Room, amid a load of anonymous postgraduate students, in the hope that nobody will recognise me and prod me awake to ask if I’m ok. (A pregnant colleague has since informed me that my workplace actually has a special maternity room with a comfy chair that I had no idea about. Hooray for our HR department!)

Apparently I’m also a big, old, nesting cliche. Having spent the last 2 weekends sorting out the storage under our bed and reorganising the Microbe’s wardrobe, I was perturbed to receive one of those weekly ‘what to expect’ emails this week with the sentence “Reorganising the closets, alphabetising the spice rack, and thwarting dust-bunny breeding efforts under the bed?” Damn them. I am a human being, not a number…  (I think even G might be feeling the nesting urge, because he’s started steam-cleaning every surface in sight.)

In girlbot news – I had another courtesy scan last week and it seems that all is well and she still has everything in the right place.  According to my pregnancy iPhone app she is currently around the size of a small cabbage and will treble in size over the next 10 weeks. Joyous…

The more I contemplate the birth, the more  I find myself hoping that the hospital might just let me to skip straight to the c-section this time around, rather than re-living the 3-day fiasco of James’s’ appearance.

I had a wonderfully naive, hippy birth plan for James involving a natural birthing suite and a water bath. Ha! Who was I kidding? That little bugger had no intention of making an appearance without every bit of medical intervention known to man.

Even more amusingly, I came across my old self-hypnosis CD the other week that I bought in order to prepare me for labour. I listened to this religiously in my final month with James but never managed to stay awake beyond the first ten minutes.  As a relaxation CD it was second to none. The moment the soothing voice started counting down and telling me to relax I was gone. (Apparently this is not a problem, as the voice informs us that all of the information will go in subconsciously while we snore in a chair.)

Anyway, I listened to this CD again last week and, by some miracle, managed to stay awake for the whole thing.  As a result I learned the following facts about my impending birth experience…

1. Apparently I can ‘switch off’ the pain at any time by mentally envisaging myself turning down a dial every time it gets too much. Excellent news.

2. I will “enjoy” my contractions …and at some point will “open up like a flower”. Hooray!

3. (This is the best bit).  At the end of my enjoyable contractions, the baby will “glide” out of my vagina.

GLIDE!!!  She seriously says “glide”. I hereby swear that I will pay this hypnosis lady £1000 on the spot if she can find me a single female willing to use the word “glide” when describing her baby’s arrival into the world.

As for the girlbot, I’m feeling quite relieved that she’s still got two months to go in there. I just wish that she’d refrain from frolicking about on my bladder all day and night. It’s bad enough feeling like you need the loo all day long but it goes into overdrive when you add a cough and a cold into the mix. I might as well have set up home in the bathroom for the last 2 weeks. (Also I can only assume that ‘pregnancy flu’ must be related to ‘man flu’ because I’ve never before felt so wiped out by a cold. ’tis pathetic, I tell you!)

In good news of the week, I’m relieved to report that I do not have pregnancy diabetes. This wouldn’t even have occurred to me if I hadn’t had a dubious result on my first glucose test. I had to go in for more stabbings and lucozade yesterday to confirm it either way and apparently all is fine after all so I shall stop worrying about that now.

In Microbe news, he is full of beans and the joys of life and remains an overexcited little boybot.

Also, it seems that the mystery of the regressive wee-wee accidents has been solved, with some degree of triumph, by one of his nursery teachers. The premise to this story is twofold:

1. Each of the children at nursery has a bag hanging on their peg which contains spare ‘accident’ clothes and only comes home for replenishment if/when an accident has occurred.

2. The Microbe has form when it comes to pocket-smuggling tiny animal contraband in and out of nursery, despite being well aware of the rule on not bringing your own toys in.

So – the teacher in question, upon finding James’s pockets full of contraband on a semi-regular basis, has taken to confiscating any rogue animals that don’t belong at nursery and putting them in his peg bag. The boybot’s reaction to this, having cottoned on to the fact that his peg bag only comes home on days when he has an accident, has been to have deliberate accidents on those days, thus ensuring that he can stealthily retrieve the confiscated toys at home when nobody’s looking without having to fess up to daddy that he’d smuggled them in.

This system was going very well for him up to the part in which he outed himself by suggesting, mid-confiscation, that he might need to “have an accident” that afternoon in order to get the toys back in time for bedtime. Suffice to say he’s had talkings to and his pockets are now being checked with extra rigour every morning before leaving the house (yesterday Thumper – today Simba).

If he had his way, tomorrow’s contraband would be a toy narwhal. Apparently he dreamed that he had one and was sorely disappointed to wake up and find that it wasn’t true. (I know this because he woke me up around 5:30 am to share his dismay). Now he’s talking about writing to Father Christmas, who was apparently rather remiss not to have included a narwhal in his stocking.  *seriously… kids of today*.

In food news, I think a growth spurt may be occurring because the boy has been uncharacteristically ravenous all week. I just wish he’d stash some of those extra calories on his waist. After doing a massive cull on his wardrobe I made the stupid error of bulk-buying a load of new jeans and trousers for him online, all with stretchy ribbed waists in age 3-4, from George and M&S. Alas every single pair hangs baggily off his hips and shows off his pants, making him look like a teenage hoodie.

Do we really live in a nation of hugely chunky boys or is the microbe a freakish string bean? I swear if he was chunky enough to wear those trousers on zero stretch, I’d be unable to lift him. I just need to remember NEVER again to buy trousers for him online unless they have that button-elastic thing on the inside that lets you adjust them.

In prep for Thing 2 turning up, Daddy and Jimmy have been having lots of bonding fun, with swimming and board games and phonics and so on. It’s v sweet how much the boybot looks forward to doing things with daddy these days. Here he is wearing daddy’s glasses…


Last, but not least, we had World Book Day and The Microbe went as Fantastic Mr Fox.

For some reason these pictures (especially the last one) remind me of his cousin Henry, back when he was a wee microbe. This surprised me at the time but then G’s sister posted a pic of a young G on facebook in which he looks exactly like Henry, so I suppose it’s not that unlikely a resemblance after all…






Well that’s probably enough of a ramblathon so I shall go away until I can think of some more pointless things to say.


Posted in Life of James, Pictures, Pregnancy & Birth | Leave a comment

Work for idle hands

On Sunday afternoon I began to wonder what has become of my lifestyle as, instead of being engaged in a long, lazy lunch at a restaurant with G, I found myself kneeling in a local church hall, cleaning up a gallon of random child’s vomit.

Suffice to say it was my turn to chaperone the Microbe to a children’s party. In truth it was a perfectly nice party – albeit huge and brave, with at least 40 pre-schoolers rampaging about, scoffing bolognese, dancing, crying and cavorting on a bouncy castle (and vomiting beside my feet, obv).

Seeing no such emissions emerging from the Microbe, I reverted to standing in a corner and eating cake and assumed that we’d got off fairly lightly. Alas, he was merely saving it for later. I should have known something was up when he zonked out on the sofa well before bedtime – but I failed to spot the warning signs and wandered back ten mins later to find him (and the sofa) caked in the remains of his tea.

On days like these I really feel for single parents. You just can’t put a price on the moral support of having some poor sap nearby who will stand around and make appalled noises with you for 5 minutes. Not to mention being able to share out the tasks, so that one of you can wash and comfort the wailing boy while the other strips and launders the sofa cushions …and everything else that got spattered.

The next morning the boybot woke up cheerful and full of beans but we had to honour the nursery quarantine and keep him home anyway.  Apparently nursery has turned into vomageddon since then – I pity the poor staff!

As it was, Jimmy and I had a very nice day at home together, getting up to this and that. At some point in the afternoon he became fervently engaged in the task of finding his “missing raccoons” – these being a pair of microsopic plastic Playmobil toys, each around the size of a peanut. The chances of them turning up seemed pretty slim and his search involved turning his bedroom upside down and getting out every single toy in the flat …so I left him to it and got on with some stealth sewing.

As a result I was able to finish another quilt – hooray! I’d promised to make one for the boy after I finished his baby sister’s and he instructed me that he didn’t want his quilt to be flowery as that would be “for girls” (yes – it has begun.)

I find patchwork for boys a bit of a challenge as the fabrics that are clearly marketed for them make far too much use of 70s retro colours and overly stylised monsters and robots for my liking. In the end, I decided to just base it around his favourite colour (red).

The result has turned out a little bit ‘Christmasy’ but never mind – the boy seems happy with it. (Apparently it also makes a good chessboard for brightly-coloured animals…)


This daylight pic of the work-in-progress probably gives a more accurate idea of the colours…


Edited to add…   here it is being christened:


Anyway it’ll do good service until the weather turns warm, then we’ll probably switch him back to the farmyard one, which is thinner and lighter for Spring.

I really should have stopped sewing the minute I finished the quilt but I was struck by a dogged determination to make matching pillowcases during the evening. As a result I got tired and sloppy and distracted and ended up creating a useless pair that are about 2 cm too tight for his pillows. Pah!

As for the raccoons – the boybot finally located one of them, to his utter joy, shortly before bedtime. Roll forward to this morning’s conversation…

“James, you’re NOT taking that raccoon to nursery. He’s tiny and you spent all day yesterday looking for him. If you take him to nursery you’ll never see him again”
“Just put him somewhere safe and he’ll be waiting for you when you get home”
“Mummy, I’m going to put him away when you’re not looking”
“Are you looking?”
“Ok I’ve put the raccoon away”
“He’s in your pocket isn’t he?”
“Let me feel your pockets”
[sheepish face]

The Microbe’s other latest obsession is game playing. It has become a fun bonding activity with daddy over the last few weeks, involving board games and Go Fish and a card game where they have to match animals to their homes (e.g. rabbit/warren, badger/sett, etc.) Yesterday the boy got a sub-standard level of service with Mummy, who had to phone daddy to find out how they play the rules – but he jumped for joy when G got home from work and demanded “a dice game“.  I find it very sweet hearing them play and I’m certainly not keen to usurp daddy’s role as gamesmaster.

In baby sister news, the Microbe has become fixated on calling her Tabitha. This was not on our list of potential names… alas, he doesn’t seem to think much of any of those.

I said to him the other day:

“Do you really want to call her Tabitha?”
“Maybe we could call her something else …and Tabitha could be a nickname?”
“No, Mummy! Her name will be Tabitha and her nickname will be Microgirl!”

I guess we shall have to think about that one.

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Going commando

Just when you thought things were over… Microbes have an annoying habit of regressing.

After a very long run of staying in his own bed all night, the boybot seems to have reverted to stealthy night-time visits. I don’t always hear him arrive but I frequently wake to find him snuggled up next to me in bed.

We’ve had plenty of “little chats” about it but I have a feeling that he’s sleepwalking and not actually in control. Last weekend he crept into Uncle Alistair’s bed in the small hours and didn’t respond at all when spoken to – he just fell instantly back to sleep and they carried him back to his own bed and he stayed there for the rest of the night.

Last month he also had a spate of regressive “accidents” at nursery, after months on end without mishap. Every incident seemed to involve him standing next to the loo with his trousers half-down, having simply left it too late to run to the bathroom. One week was particularly bad and he had THREE accidents, meaning that he ran out of spare clothing and ended up going commando in another man’s trousers for the rest of the day. Dear me.

G mentioned it to his BFF’s mum and she revealed that he was suffering from exactly the same regression – hence there is some suspicion that the two of them might have been in cahoots over it. As it stands, we’ve had some little chats with him about remembering to go as soon as he needs a wee and (so far) no more accidents.

On the topic of nursery cahoots, the Microbe and his two closest boy-pals could put the Artful Dodger to shame when it comes to wilful tea leafing. Ever since he first became aware of pockets it has been a daily battle to prevent the boy from smuggling contraband in and out of nursery. Given half a chance, every pocket would contain a tiny plastic animal that he absolutely “needs” to have with him at nursery. The fact that these toys are taking a one-way ticket to the VOID and will never find their way home again doesn’t seem to deter him.

Equally, we’re having a job and half stopping him from smuggling pocket-sized tat back home with him. The other evening I noticed a bulging pocket and made him turn it out – at which point he sheepishly revealed not one but FOUR items that didn’t belong. In true klepto-style, they weren’t even worthwhile toys, but random crap, including a wooden sausage, a lego man, a battered toy car and a plastic part from a construction set

His defence for these misdemeanours is usually along the lines of “But [buddy 1] took a lion home yesterday” and “[Buddy 2] always takes home the cars!

Buddy 1 and Buddy 2 are the subject of daily anecdotes these days, often hilarious in nature. Unfortunately, now that they’re all old enough to earwig and repeat everything you say back to their parents, it has become a daily exercise in lip-biting not to mutter “Well [buddy 1] is a brat” and “Don’t listen to [buddy 2] – he’s clearly an idiot“.

In seasonal news, G and I don’t celebrate VD but the Microbe has nevertheless made us a card and a salt dough loveheart, which is very sweet. The card is addressed to “Mummy, Daddy and my Baby Sister” (teacher informs us that he insisted on adding on his sister). Bless.

He still cuddles my tummy a lot and refers to Thing 2 as “my baby“. I fear he’s going to be a tad disappointed when a fully-formed, toddler-sized playmate fails to pop out.

We have a lot of conversations like this…

“Mummy, my baby sister will love animals, won’t she?”
“Well we don’t know yet, darling, we’ll have to wait and see. She might be more interested in other things”
“But mummy, she WILL love animals because I will teach her”
“Will you?”
“Yes! I will teach her all of the animal names and their noises.”
“Do you know that all of your first words were animal names and noises? Are you going to teach her those?”
“Yes! And she can cuddle my animals and I can read her my stories”
“I think she will love that”

“Mummy, is my baby sister going to sleep in my bedroom?”
“Not when she’s very little”
“She’ll have to sleep in mummy’s room at first because tiny babies wake up all through the night and need to be fed. But when she’s a bigger girl she can move into your room”

As for my ever burgeoning girth, I must say that I don’t remember ever feeling quite so pregnant when the boy was in there. I certainly didn’t look like a house at 6 months and I don’t remember having such shortage of breath. My usual commuting style of zipping in and out of crowds is long gone – I’m well and truly in the slow lane now and will happily let people overtake me and watch trains go, rather than cramming myself on. It’s strangely liberating, not being in a hurry.

Lastly, I shall just mention that I have FINALLY replaced my phone. I realise this is news of extreme dullness but, having spent the last 18 months getting by with a screen that looked like crazy paving and was held together with tape, it feels amazing to have a phone that I can actually see – and use for the interwebz and for taking pictures.  (Would anyone like to place a bet on how long it lasts before it gets “Microbed” back into crazy paving?)

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The first rule of the countryside

G and I had a little treat at the weekend as we dropped the Microbe off for a sleepover at Uncle Alistair’s house and swanned off to Salisbury for a night in a hotel.

We’d never been before but Salisbury is very nice indeed and, unencumbered by a Microbe, we reverted to our old ways pretty much instantly, starting with a lazy Bistro lunch, a mooch around the town, a cake break and a cinema visit – followed by a late dinner at an excellent Indian restaurant called Anokaa (better than The Cinnamon Club, in my opinion).  Just having the freedom to book a dinner table at 9pm seemed an amazing liberty.

The following morning we had a bit of a lie in, then breakfast and another relaxing mooch before returning to pick up the boybot.

As soon as Alistair opened the door we were treated to a prolonged, rapid and high-pitched monologue from the Microbe, informing us that he’d been “a very good boy” and had been to see some meerkats and otters and piggies, painted a pottery crocodile, acquired a baby badger toy, slept in a dinosaur bed, made cakes and generally had a far more exciting time than he’d have had at home with G and me.

He was also keen to impart an important new life lesson that he’d learned…

“Daddy, do you know what the first rule of the countryside is?”
“No, why don’t you tell me?”
“Never lick a badger!”

Auntie Sarah is apparently no more trustworthy than I am when it comes to programming the boy. Once we’d all stopped guffawing, we did nothing to disabuse him of this – and I thoroughly hope that he’s passing this pearl of wisdom on to the children and teachers at nursery today.

On the drive home, shortly before he nodded off, he brought up the topic of the dodos again. It’s been on his mind for two weeks now, so I guess he hasn’t finished processing it – and we had a near-repeat of the conversation from last time…

“Mummy, it’s very sad about the dodos isn’t it?”
“Yes, love”
“Why did the people eat ALL of them?”
“Because they just didn’t think, darling. They didn’t understand that if they ate all of them, there would be no dodos left in the world.”
“But, Mummy, they should have saved some – for me to cuddle”
[laugh] “Well… yes. They should have saved some for the people who love animals”
“Like me, Mummy! And like you!”
“Yes, love. But try not to worry because nowadays people DO think and we try to save some so that animals don’t go extinct.”

Bless his angsty little cottons. I think he nodded off shortly after that, so only time will tell whether the topic comes up again.



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