Friday, 23 December 2011

It's Christmas!

Christmas Day is nearly here and we're pretty much ready for it – and if we're not, there's not a lot we can do about it now!

I remember, as young boy, waking up on Christmas morning to find a stack of presents at the end of my bed – usually stuffed into a pillowcase until its seams were bursting. It was such a huge heap of assorted, colourful gifts and my eyes were probably as wide as saucers with the anticipation of opening them. The worst bit was the wait – waking up at 4am and being told to go back to sleep for at least another three hours or so made the suspense drag unbearably.

These past three Christmases have been the most exciting since my childhood ones and they just seem to be getting more and more fun. At the moment George isn't quite old enough to wake eager and extra early on Christmas morning, so it will be me who'll be revisiting my childhood and asking "is it time yet?" – although probably not at 4am!

We have been to visit Santa, who had a bit of a Brummie accent, and even though George didn't have a list or didn't know what to ask for for Christmas, there is a whole heap of presents that Santa will be delivering – enough to fill two, if not three pillowcases.

Next year and probably the next few after that, George will more than likely be waking us up at some ridiculously early hour to tell us Father Christmas has been... and I'll be telling him to go back to sleep for a while.

Happy Christmas all!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas is coming and we've been busy

We've been quite busy recently – what with Christmas coming and all that – but we've still managed to find time to have some fun. We've been...

... painting ...

... playing in the woods ...

... baking cakes (and eating the mixture) ...

... and visiting Santa on a special Christmas steam train on the Battlefield Line near Bosworth Field ...

And as such the blogging has suffered a little bit. I'll try to get back on track, especially after Christmas. After all, when you're George's age there's something new to learn, say or see almost every day...

His latest favourite phrase is "course it is!" or variations such as "course I do/it does/we do". Yesterday he called Nanna's dog Daisy "big stinky" – don't know where he picked that one up! More recently, even though he has had an ear infection, he has been overjoyed to see Christmas trees and lights going up everywhere. We, along with both sets of grandparents put up our trees on the same day – I reckon it was some kind of race – so George had a day of Christmas tree overload and spent most of the time jumping up and down in front of the trees and then running round in circles until he fell over.

It is certainly tempting to spend a lot of money on presents – there are so many fab toys around – but while he's a little too young to be making Christmas demands we've managed to keep a lid on it. The trick is not getting in the car and going to Toys R Us in the first place!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Growing up too fast

Now, I like to set my little boy a good example but I'm not sure if this was the case last Friday. In fact I probably inadvertently sowed a seed of corruption.

Friday is my day with George and at lunch time we began a negotiation on the terms of eating some food. We managed to agree on what food to have – sausage, mash, peas and gravy – and all was going according to plan until a stalemate over location. I wanted George to eat his lunch at the kitchen table, he wanted it on the coffee table in the lounge in front of Balamory.

So, guess what... George agreed to eat all his lunch very carefully and I agreed to let him eat it in the lounge. Jokingly I told him "but don't tell Mummy or Daddy will be in trouble".

When Mummy arrived home from work she gave George the usual big cuddle and lots of kisses and then asked him about his day (I had already told her about our lunchtime bartering). She asked him what he'd had for lunch and George answered "sausages". She asked him where he'd eaten his lunch and George answered "in here" before remembering what Daddy had said and quickly changing his answer to "in there" and pointing to the kitchen – then he gave me a knowing look that said "almost got you in trouble there but I think we got away with it".

It was a look that I'm not sure I liked – mainly because it seemed such a grown-up expression for such a young and innocent face.

Moments later I was left wondering what kind of Pandora's Box I'd opened... A few parpy noises emanated from the seat of George's pyjama bottoms to which we surprisedly responded "what was that noise?" Quick as a flash George replied "Mickey" and passed the blame on to Mickey Mouse.

I mentioned that George has been settling into his new bedroom – and we're pleasantly surprised that he has done so rather seemlessly. Even though he's no longer in his cot, he doesn't get out of bed after we've put him down (although he did the first night or two) and he waits in his bed for us to come to him in the morning.

The other thing that has surprised us is that every night he turns his nightlight off before he falls asleep. At first we thought he could be being very grown up and realising he was tired was making a conscious decision for 'lights out', but now we think it's perhaps the stars on his ceiling that he likes to look at before he eventually nods off.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

George's new room

If you've been wondering where I've been, I've been putting together IKEA furniture for George's room – actually, shopping for it probably took longer, what with IKEA's absolutely ridiculous store layout (if I had the means I'd be taking legal action for false imprisonment).

Still, the Stuva storage stuff looks really good and George is now settling into his new room and sleeping in his 'big boy' bed. It is taking him a little longer to settle (it will be his fourth night tonight) and occasionally we hear a few footsteps and other noises that tell us he's up and about rather than tucked up asleep.

However, George is rather proud of his new bedroom and shows it off to family and friends with glee. This is how it looks...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

On the wrong side of the door

George's friend Noah came to visit the other day with his baby brother – and his mummy, of course – and when it was time to go home we all walked out to the car to see them off.

George must have been feeling extra friendly because he was quite happy to give Noah a kiss goodbye – there will come a time when this will be discouraged – and Noah was quite happy about it too.

Moments later the car has been loaded with bags and children and all the associated paraphernalia. Noah's mum walks round to get in the driver's side and we turn to walk back up the garden path to see George race ahead of us, run in the house and slam the front door shut.

Aaaagh! He is now alone inside the house with me and mummy locked out – all keys and phones firmly indoors. Worse still, we know that George cannot open the door from the inside – he can reach the handle and pull it down so that it is unlatched but hasn't got the strength to pull the door open (it's quite heavy and makes a suction noise when you open it).

Noah's mum watches the panic ensue from her open car door and the only thing we can think of is to borrow her mobile and call a grandparent (both sets of which have a spare key to our house).

Fortunately, I could see George through the door window and after a couple of seconds of encouragement manage to get him to pull the handle down – and it's first time lucky – as soon as I think he's pulled the handle down and unlatched the door, I give a little push and we're back in.

Panic over.

It was a bit of a lucky escape – I dread to think what might have happened if we had had to wait for Nannie, Nanna, Grandad or Grandad... and it would have been even more unthinkable if we hadn't been able to contact them. We would probably have had to call the fire brigade, and in George's eyes that kind of excitement is pure encouragement.

At least it wasn't raining.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

How to give a balloon an inflated ego

I'm on a level playing field with a balloon. Apart from the fact we may be similar in that balloons are round and have no hair (unless you draw it on), it seems that when it comes to a goodnight kiss George is in a dilemma as to who should be first and I am often last in line.

Mummy, balloon, me. And it's not one balloon in particular – after all they don't last that long – any old balloon deserves a goodnight kiss, perhaps a little rub and a cuddle, even when they're looking shrivelled and deflated and no longer bobbing up against the ceiling they still get their kiss. I sometimes have to pull a 'very sad face' – something I can do that a balloon can't (ha) – before I get my goodnight kiss.

The other night I was even further down the pecking order – Mummy, balloon, train, lorry, a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine, me – but I'm hoping things might change when George sees his new bedroom. He has watched me painting the walls and the woodwork and he knows daddy has been working on 'George's new room' but we've been keeping him out since we added the Finding Nemo mural, Lightning McQueen bed and a Stargazer Ceiling that glows in the dark with a true representation of the night sky. When it's all done we'll do a big 'reveal'!

The ceiling is particularly magical. The best way to see it is to lie on the floor from where you can view constellations including Ursa Major and Minor, Gemini, Cassiopeia and Cygnus and even the Milky Way in the distance. It almost looks as if the ceiling has disappeared, and to a little boy fascinated with stars and the moon it will be truly captivating.

Now, if that doesn't elevate my status there'll be some serious popping going on!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Say cheese

Probably the cheesiest blog I've ever posted...

This what happens when we leave the cheese unattended for a few moments...

And it's so hard to keep a straight face and tell him off when he grins at you with a big cheesy smile!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

In the bright garden

We've spent a little more time outside enjoying the garden – could be down to the sunshine and the lovely warm days we've been having...

George finds a new use for the slide...

and is fast learning the art of posing for the camera...

and finally, I couldn't resist taking a pic of the afternoon sky.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Advertising shmadvertising

Our trip to the cinema turned out to be very enjoyable and a great success. George sat through the whole 60-minute 'Day of the Diesels' film without shifting an inch – even when other older children were getting fidgety, with about 15-20 minutes to go, George remained mesmerised.

It was the 15 minutes before the film that he wasn't interested in and that made us a little apprehensive – advertisements and gumf and all that non-descript rubbish that precedes a movie had George fidgeting and whingeing before Thomas the Tank had even appeared.

It's advertising that makes us avoid Milkshake on Channel 5 as much as possible. We make exceptions for Thomas and Roary the Racing Car, of course, but other than that we switch back to CBeebies as quickly as possible.

It won't be long before the power of advertising eventually "brainwashes" our little fella – just as it does relentlessly to the rest of us – and I fid it a little sad that the influence advertising has is almost omnipotent, telling us what we want or need and convincing us we need things that we don't even want.

Having said that, and reiterating the fact that advertising is pretty much unavoidable, I do quite like the new Sainsbury's adverts with a lad and his dad – it's a squishy hug of an advert for all dads, especially 'stay-at-home' dads (or whatever we're meant to be called).

The Tesco ad, on the other hand, when mum phones dad to ask about the shopping and he tells her he's at the supermarket but is actually doing the shopping online because he's too lazy to get off the sofa, has one fatal flaw. When mum gets home, how is he going to explain where the shopping is?

And then there's the one for the daily moisturiser that lasts for seven days... eh? Anyway, I'm heading off at a tangent here and must curb my advertising rant.

Highly recommended is my book 'The Smallest Happy Number' – just click on the Lulu link on the right and... oh no – even I'm at it now!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Boy Wonder

Not sure if he has designs on being a superhero or he thinks his nappies aren't doing their job properly – but this is George taking a picture of me taking a picture of George, and even though George's camera doesn't take real photos, I made sure I was wearing my underpants underneath my trousers.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Staycation time

September is the month when both my and mummy's MoT is due and when mummy's tax disc needs renewing – so we're not going on holiday.

Instead we're having a 'staycation' and doing some holidayish things while stopping at home.

On Monday, George went to nursery as usual, which gave me the chance to start decorating his new room in de rigueur blue for a boy (not a typical holiday activity, I know).

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. We have been to the zoo before but this time we let George run about rein-free – so he loved it just that little bit more – and we ran about a little bit more than usual too.

Today, we have been swimming – or rather George has been splashing and jumping and sliding and we've been wading and chasing after him. More than that, we travelled to the baths on the bus and sat on the top deck, right at the front, both there and back.

After parking in the local supermarket car park we crossed the road and waited at the bus stop. We'd only been there a couple of minutes when nanny drove past in the opposite direction. She spotted us and we waved as she mouthed something and made some kind of turning-around hand sign, probably thinking our cars had failed their MoTs or something.

We didn't find out if she did do a loop at the next island as our bus pulled up and we hopped on. After we settled in our seats we sent a quick text to explain our bus queue situation and then burst into song with an extended version of 'The Wheels on the Bus' (minus daddy's verses about 'the cows on the bus', 'the donkey on the bus' and 'the kangaroo on the bus' which apparently goes boing, boing, boing all day long). It was a shame that the other passengers didn't join in, but I have to admit, as more people got on, it eventually ended up with George singing solo and increasing his volume to pick up mummy and daddy's slack.

For the rest of our 'staycation' we are having another day out on Friday (not sure where yet) and a trip to the cinema on Saturday morning (I think I mentioned that the other week)... and George has joined in with the theme by asking to wear his sunglasses while watching In the Night Garden.

Now... if the cars pass the MoTs then perhaps we'll celebrate with an ice-cream.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mini 'CHiPS'

We have our very own highways patrol, keeping law and order on the driveways and paths outside our home. Actually, George would rather be using his newly-found riding skills to herd chickens in the field but fortunately his highway patrol bike wouldn't fit through the kissing gate.

If this is anything to go by the chances of reviving TV cop show 'CHiPS' has just taken a huge leap forward...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Big boy, big bed, big screen

I've just put George down for his afternoon nap and I must admit I really enjoy cudding him to sleep until his arms go flop and Mickey Mouse falls out of his grasp, and it's when he's snuggled up on my lap that it dawns on me how big he is getting.

I don't think he's particularly tall for his age (at 2 and a quarter he's about waist height on me) but we've realised it's time to get him out of his cot – and those sleep-bag things – and into a 'big-boy' bed. In preparation for this we have cleared out the second bedroom, putting things in a) the loft b) the skip and c) daddy's office. We have painted swatches of various shades of blue on the walls – somehow we managed to buy two that were exactly the same – and cooed over beds in the shape of Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Tank Engine.

We have also decided that he's getting to the age when he might enjoy a trip to the cinema – he sat on my lap and watched Kung Fu Panda from beginning to end without shifting an inch the other day – so we've booked tickets to see the latest Thomas the Tank Engine film, Day of the Diesels. I'm actually quite excited about it, mainly because the last time I went to the cinema was to see True Lies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, way back in 1994.

It's not that I don't like films – I like films a lot – it's more that I don't like rustling sweet papers, talking, munching and slurping drink noises (I don't think there were many mobile phones around in 1994 so things can only have got worse). Also, you can buy a DVD to keep and watch over and over again for less than the price of a cinema ticket.

George has yet to develop any 'Victor Meldrew' tendencies of his own and I'm sure he'll be mesmerised by the big screen, and however much background noise there is, it will all be part of a new experience for him, just like it was for me when I went to see Snow White when I was little.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Easy up... easy down

Sort of a warning, or rather a heads up, on the transition from normal nappies to those pull-up type pants.

Well, George is now in the pull-ups during the day and one thing we've noticed is that, size for size, they're slightly larger/looser than the normal nappies (although this could be because you don't have control over the tightness of any sticky fastening strips because there are none).

A couple of number ones and all of a sudden George looks like a teenager who thinks their waistline is below their bum and their crotch is between their knees. Then, he'll bend over to pick up Thomas the Tank and we get the view of a proper builder's bum in the making. Hmmm... the builder look or the teenager look? Perhaps we ought to get him some Calvin Klein pants and run with the lobotomised teenager look.

But the story doesn't end there... I was happily preparing dinner in the kitchen and George was happily playing in the living room. After a few moments he entered the kitchen holding something between his fingers, saying "little one, Daddy... little one". It suddenly dawned on me that he is no longer wearing his nappy and is holding... well, let's just say it looked like a Revel and I wasn't in any hurry to find out if it was coffee, toffee or orange.

The Easy-up nappy seems to have been just as easy to get down and was sitting on the mat in the middle of his train track. One good thing is that it didn't unfold like a normal nappy and retained all of its contents. So, it was just George who needed seeing to (luckily he hadn't sat down anywhere) and I decided it was probably best to start with his hands which were beginning to wander towards his hair, his ears, cupboard doors, walls and my trousers.

We've since bought the next size down and these fit a little more snugly and don't ease their way down quite so effortlessly. George loves his Easy-up pants and, as long as they stay up more than down now that we've got the right size, we quite like them too.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Aaah... the age of innocence. There will come a time when he won't be able to do this (or won't want to), but at the moment he walks straight past the fig tree and isn't even tempted to cover his modesty with one of its underpants-shaped leaves. "Hey, George... don't touch that apple!"

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

George's rules of outdoor play

It's a sunny day and we're enjoying a morning outside in the garden – we have set up the paddling pool and the water toys, the umbrella, the sunloungers, put a blanket on the grass, opened the patio doors to the kitchen and conservatory and put Bebel Gilberto on the iPod. Everything set for an enjoyable, fun and relaxing time in the sun for us all.

But George has his own rules:
1. Soil the last swim nappy without having been near the paddling pool.
2. Instantly jump in the paddling pool the moment he has a clean, ordinary nappy on.
3. Transfer as much sand from the sandpit to the paddling pool and as much water from the paddling pool to the sandpit as possible.
4. Play in the dirt or somewhere slightly hazardous, in fact anywhere apart from on the grass where the toys are.
5. Try to eat the sunscreen lotion.
6. Press as many buttons as possible on daddy's laptop when he's trying to check his email.
7. Ignore water toys and wash and dunk toys not designed for water play – ie. those with batteries or engines. Rosie the engine, one of Thomas's pals, has been almost fully submerged and has passed this test admirably.
8. Wee on a sunlounger (mummy's thankfully).

Needless to say George is the one having the most fun. Hopefully, mummy's sunlounger will be nice and dry by the time she actually gets to sit in it – probably this evening, after George has gone to bed and the sun has gone down. Well, perhaps a glass of wine will make up for it.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A touch of Mozart

With the BBC Proms in full swing, George decided to put on his own concert – a little bit of very early Mozart no less. Although he manages the tune perfectly well vocally, his fingering does need a little work on the accuracy side!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A game of Cat and Mouse – or rather, Cat and George

Recently we visited Mummy's cousin and her family who've just moved back to the UK from South Africa, and while we enjoyed good company and great food, George enjoyed chasing their cats around the garden...

Needless to say, even though he tried his best with admirable persistence...

they were always going to be too quick for him!

But then again, sometimes...

he was too quick for us!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I suppose you'd call it A for effort

This week we had an informal chat with George's keyworker at nursery about how he is getting on now that he has moved from the baby room to the toddler room. And it just happened to fall on the day that George did his first wee in a potty.

Anyway, it seems we have nothing to worry about – he's doing fine and is perfectly on track for a two-year-old, but it's quite surprising on how many levels they are assessed, even at the age of two. There are five categories:
1) Personal, Social and Emotional Development
2) Communication, Language and Literacy
3) Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
4) Knowledge and Understanding of the World
5) Creative Development
Most categories have sub categories, such as Disposition and Attitudes which falls under 1) or Exploration and Investigation which is under 4). We were quite surprised at how comprehensive and detailed the development assessments are.

A profile form is filled out every so often with comments on each category – a bit like a mini school report – and the last one said things such as:
'George is a very caring and confident child who enjoys interacting with other children and adults.'
'George enjoys using repetitive language and imitating words you say.'
'George enjoys physical challenges, especially in the garden where he likes to climb, run and push toys.'
'George likes to make loud noises from different objects.'
Which adds up to pretty much your typical two-year-old.

I suppose he's started off on the right track – let's just hope he doesn't get comments like his Dad – 'Paul prefers to waste his time in lessons instead of concentrating on his work' ... well, it was maths!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Making cakes

This is what happens when we make cakes with George. The cakes turned out fine, which could be on the lucky side taking into account mummy's counting skills.

And – to keep on the right side of health & safety (whoever they may be) – said cakes are not unleashed on the public, only mummy, daddy and the grandparents.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hats the way to do it

When the sunny weather comes along we always have the sun hat problem. The one when we put the sun hat on to George's head and he immediately grabs it and throws it off – which often leads to a mini tug-of-war in a grapple for control of the hat.

Of course, George doesn't realise we're trying to cover his head for his own good, he seems to think we're just trying to annoy him – in a similar way we annoy him during the sun cream wrestling.

However, it looks like we have found the solution and the sun hat problem is now hopefully consigned to the past...

On Monday we visited Drayton Manor Theme Park with Nanny and Grandad, Aunty Nikki and cousin Tom. George was delighted when he realised he was in the middle of Thomas the Tank Engine land and loved every ensuing minute. With the sun beating down we tried, using distraction and stealth, to plonk a hat on his head but George was having none of it and we soon gave up. Instead we sought the shade which sometimes came in the form of Harold the Helicopter, Percy's train or one of the other many rides.

It was a in the Thomas gift shop – another source of cool shade – that we spotted a Thomas Land baseball cap and decided to give it a try as it had a picture of Thomas on. George examined the hat, said "Mhomas hat" a few times (most of his Ts are pronounced M at the moment), decided he liked it and let us put it on his head.

Our son has got his hat on – hip, hip, hip, hooray!

And so the plan worked. In fact it has worked so well, he wears it nearly all the time. Thing is we now have another hat dispute – and I honestly don't know where or how George has learned this – when we put the Thomas cap on George likes to take it off and put it back on with the peak at the back... I don't know – the first signs of delinquency and he's only just two!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Riding and running

You'd be forgiven for thinking that we spent the entirity of our break in Great Yarmouth taking George on sit-on rides. After all, when we flicked back through the holiday snaps it looked like George had been on every one in East Anglia...

An Eddie Stobart lorry,

an ice-cream van,

a fire engine,

a steam train,

a double-decker bus,

an American truck,

sorry – no idea what this is,

a Jess the Cat plane,

a mini ferris wheel,

and Iggle Piggle's boat.

But that's not all we did. After a trip to the Sea Life Centre, George's favourite word became 'Nemo'. He also enjoyed a ride on the Donkeys and running along the beach. In fact, he ran at every opportunity, in any direction, as fast as his little legs would carry him. He chased rabbits, magpies, blackbirds, squirrels and ducks...

And at the end of every day, after all that excitement, running about and sea air, it wasn't only George who felt like this...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Picnic interruptions

Last weekend we went for a picnic in St Nicholas Park, Warwick, and there seemed to be a charity event/run taking place.

The first thing George saw as we put him in his pushchair at the side of the Avon was someone in a bear costume sitting and waving from a huge swan-shaped pedalo in the middle of the river. It made me wonder what went through his mind and whether he thought he was simply witnessing an aspect of British wildlife.

We walked between regular park goers and fancy-dressed fundraisers to the mini fairground where George took a trip on the mini train, and not long after that we found a spot in the middle of a huge expanse of grass to have our picnic. First of all we got the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' football out and chased it around for a while, which George thought was hilarious. He's actually pretty good at dribbling – but only in one direction. So by the time mummy had spread the blanket out and opened the picnic basket, George and daddy were about half a kilometre away.

The next problem was trying to keep George in one place while he ate his Dairylea sandwiches, olives, cheesy Wotsits, etc. After a few trips retrieving him from heading towards the swings and roundabouts, the final straw was when he put his foot in mummy's cheese and cucumber sandwich and ground it into the plate like a cigarette butt. That was when we decided he was best back in his pushchair where he happily munched away on the rest of his food.

I really thought I could at long last recline in the sunshine (Nanna phoned from her holiday while we were there to say it was raining in Majorca) and enjoy my sandwich without interruption. Alas, it was not to be... George let go of his cheesy Wotsits bag and the empty packet tumbled away in the breeze. Quite a strong breeze, because by the time I had got to my feet it was heading apace to the river. After a 100-yard dash and much stamping of feet, I finally trapped it under my foot and, like any good litter-conscious citizen, picked it up to throw it away properly. I turned round to walk back to my half-eaten sandwich and was a little annoyed to see mummy giggling hysterically. Apparently though, it was George who thought that daddy chasing litter across an empty field was the funniest thing since Iggle Piggle sneezed and fell over... mummy was actually laughing at George laughing at daddy.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The one shoe

I'm often puzzled by the single shoe. The ones you occasionally see discarded along the sides of busy A-roads or in a public bin in a city centre. I think it's the fact that there always seems to be just the one shoe and not a pair... it sort of makes me shudder that something sinister may have occurred.

One shoe? What happened to the other one – can someone fail to put on two shoes and forget where they left the other one? How long does it take someone to realise that one shoe is not adequate (unless you have one foot)? Does it suddenly dawn on them that they must head straight for the nearest shoe shop to remedy the situation?

Anyway, George has inherited my suspicion of the single shoe. We were reading The Smartest Giant in Town – a scruffy giant who gives his smart clothes away only to become scruffy again. At one point the giant gives his shoe to a family of mice whose house has burned down. But it wasn't the picture of the poor mice looking sadly at their burned-out shell of a home that made George say "oh-oh!". No, it was the picture on the next page where they had happily moved in to their new home – a single big shoe!

And it seems George may have a thing for big shoes – at his friend Noah's second birthday, he couldn't resist trying on Noah's dad's big trainers. Well, at least there were two of them and George and I remained happily unperturbed!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Birthday blues and twos

George had plenty of birthday surprises – balloons, a Mickey Mouse 'Happy Birthday' banner – along with matching cups, plates and cupcakes – and a raft of presents including a trike, a wooden tool set, colouring books, jigsaws, clothes, trains, planes, cars and a Caterpillar truck that goes forward, backward, dumps its load and shakes like a real lorry.

Mummy's squad of Mickey Mouse cupcakes...

...and Daddy's attempt at Thomas the Tank Engine icing...

...but George is more impressed with the candles

Strangest surprise of all was the impatient knocking at the door that turned out to be four police officers along with two police cars and an ambulance (I'm sure some of the neighbours must have wondered what all the blue flashing lights were too).

Before we opened the door, we had to go upstairs to fetch the key to unlock it and by the way they were knocking, if we had been a few moments longer, it wouldn't have been long before they came crashing through with a battering ram. By the time my mind had done a panicky search, we were informed that the ambulance team had asked the police to come to our address in case they needed to gain entry.

It seems they had the wrong address, but were also a bit flummoxed as to what the correct address could have been. George found it all very exciting and, during a perplexed pause when the officers all looked at each other quizzically, I informed them that it was George's birthday. Happily they all wished him 'happy birthday' which made the whole scenario even more surreal.

Anyway, we watched from the window as they tried to make sense of things on their radios, and after a few minutes they left and George waved bye-bye to the neenahs.

A little later, uncle Russ came to visit – his first weekend home after a three-month army stint in Cyprus – and brought George a battery-powered police bike complete with siren, headlight and blue flashing light. George was quite excited and was soon protective and not keen on anyone (other children) getting near it – I'm just surprised he didn't say "move along please, nothing to see here".

"Golf Echo Oscar Romeo Golf Echo"

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Avoiding the question

I have a feeling George might make a good politician one day...

The other morning I asked George if he wanted to "fetch a book to read with Daddy" and he went to his little bookcase and came back with an animal-themed sticker and activity book. We spent the next 20 minutes or so sticking lions, leopards, snakes and frogs all through the book.

We also had a little colouring competition – not the kind when you see who's best at staying inside the lines, but the kind when George has to see if he can knock Daddy's crayon out of the way so that he can colour-in the exact same spot, and the one whose colour dominates the page is the winner.

After our sticker and activity fun I told George it was time to clean his teeth before we went out. He quite likes brushing his teeth and usually clambers up the stairs shouting "teesh, teesh, teesh". This time he insisted bringing one of his stickers with him – a beaver. In the frenzy for his toothbrush I managed to prise the sticker from George's fingers and stick it to the bathroom tiles just above the sink, out of the way. George brushed his teeth happily and when finished forgot all about his beaver sticker as he ran to the stairgate at the top of the stairs.

In the evening, Mummy took George to clean his teeth before bedtime. When she opened the bathroom door she had the lovely surprise of a cartoon beaver sitting just behind the tap. She pointed to the sticker and said "Look George, what's that?" Expecting him to reply "sticker" or "maminal" (George's way of saying 'animal'), George absolved himself of all blame by saying "Daddy!"

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The soundtrack of our lives

A bit late this week – probably because both mummy and I have been feeling a little tired.

It has been quite busy too – George's birthday is just around the corner and I've been putting up a swing/slide combo in the garden in readiness. An instruction tome rather than an instruction sheet and a profusion of components that all look very similar, coupled with the task of digging out a safe area for the correct amount of playbark and you're talking about a week's work.

Anyway, I've got the play equipment all assembled and I've nearly finished the ground work.

All this is not the only reason why we're tired. It's mainly down to George's changing sleeping habits. For some reason he wakes up each day between 5 and 6am and starts singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to himself, after which comes an endless repetition of "Mammi, Mammi, Mammi, Mammi", until 7am when we let him into our bed for his morning milk.

We decided to wire up a TV/DVD in our bedroom so that we could put Thomas the Tank Engine on, hopefully keeping George occupied – and sitting still – while mummy and daddy could enjoy a little longer with our eyes shut. There are eight episodes and it won't be long before we know them off by heart.

So, at the moment, it seems there is a soundtrack of nursery rhymes and TV themes running through our everyday lives. From the 5am gurglings mentioned above to the closing credits of In the Night Garden just before George's bedtime. I even woke up the other day with a tune in my head and when I eventually placed it realised I had been humming the theme of The Tweenies.

When George was only a few months old I began an attempt to educate him with lessons in 'classic albums' each breakfast time – but it appears 1) I may have started lessons too early in life, or 2) daddy's taste in music is not as good as Noddy's.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Simple pleasures

It doesn't matter what life throws at you, there is always something, often the simplest of pleasures, that bring a smile to your face... even more so when George is around.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The great outdoors

With all the sunshine over the Easter weekend, it certainly seemed like spring had sprung – in fact it was positively summery. And after weeks, nay months, of neglecting the garden – for a number of reasons including the weather and George's insistence to help or hinder – it was good to get outside again.

Tidying the borders and mowing the lawn not only makes the garden look nice, it lifts the spirits a bit too... and George is loving playing outdoors, so much so that when he's indoors he stands with his hands and face pressed against the patio doors shouting "outside, outside", occasionally interspersed with "blackbird" when one alights on the grass.

The sunshine has meant he has spent a lot more time on the fresh-air side of the patio doors – we've been eating alfresco and enjoying the delights of grandparents and friends' gardens too. George also enjoyed a romp through the bluebells in Brandon Wood...

As he gets older I'd like to encourage his enjoyment of the outdoors and perhaps an interest in growing and gardening and with that in mind, and taking into consideration George's fondness for Thomas the Tank Engine, I embarked on a little topiary.

I was quite proud of my euonymus creation and unveiled it to mummy and George. However, I didn't get the response I was hoping for – I thought George might delightedly shout "Thomas", but when I asked him what it was, he looked at me as if to say "you mean you don't know?" and simply pointed and said "bush".

Mummy just shook her head, but I actually think it's not a bad effort – you can judge for yourself...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A sunny day excuse

It's beautifully sunny – far too sunny to sit at a computer for very long, and if I'm not having fun playing in the garden with George then I'll be mowing the lawn or weeding the borders. So, I'm not exactly being lazy if this week's blog is a simply picture to look at... of George of course.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A day with Thomas the Tank Engine

A glorious sunny Saturday was just perfect for a day out with Thomas the Tank Engine, and George, a little gobsmacked at the huge difference in size between the Thomas he pushes round on his play table and the massive steam engine chuffing along the Battlefield Line, loved every minute.

Of course, if George loves every minute then so do mummy, daddy, nanna and grandad. We arrived for the first trip of the day and made our way on to the platform to see the Fat Controller and Thomas declare the day open. We then boarded the train and settled in a compartment for the journey to Shenton, where there is chance to find out about the Battle of Bosworth.

Returning to Shackerstone, a quaint old English village station, we watched Thomas race against a diesel engine, the Fat Controller waving a chequered flag for the winner.

It was a top-notch day, made all the better by the weather, and it was certainly value for money at £9 a ticket and under 3s free. A coffee from the buffet car was £1 and the Thomas merchandise was priced just as competitively as the supermarket – which meant George bagged a new engine and a few other goodies too. Balloons were free and there was plenty of entertainment, including Punch and Judy shows, face painting, brass rubbing (well, Thomas rubbing) and more.

It's all happening again on June 18, 19, 25 and 26... visit

Anyway, here's a little taster of our day...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Going potty

The time is fast approaching when George will have to start using a potty. We got it out for the first time this morning.

George is usually pretty regular and almost always "goes" just after mummy has left for work and before I have to drop him off at nursery/nanna's/nanny's. Then he usually "goes" again just after I pick him up and before mummy arrives home.

George hasn't "been" for a couple of days and so this morning, as he stood in front of the TV watching Postman Pat, his face reddening as he clenched his bum cheeks and adopted a stance that can only be described as "I'm free" (a reference to Are You Being Served for those whose memories don't go back as far as mine), we thought it would be the ideal time to whip down his pyjama bottoms and plonk him on the duck-shaped potty.

Well, needless to say, it didn't go as planned. Rather than realising the true purpose of the potty, George got a little frustrated that it didn't have wheels... after all, as well as its squeaky beak it has handlebars just like his ride-on train.

It's too early to say yet, but hopefully when this potty training gets started proper it won't drag on too long – well, we will get there because most, sorry, all the adults I know stopped using potties years ago. Let's just hope he doesn't get his duck mixed up with his train.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Library is the start of a quiet week

This week George joined the library. He brought five new books home and nearly all of them had a transport theme. Fire engines, tractors, trains – if it has wheels then it's a winner. All his favourite toys have a transport theme too.

Nannie and grandad recently bought him a Land Rover with a horse box, which has actually saved me a little embarrassment. On the one day a week when I drop him at nursery, he would point at all the 4x4s and shout "van" – now he shouts Land Rover, or rather "wan-wowa", which is far more acceptable and I can smile politely without the apologetic look that used to accompany it.

The clocks went forward this week, and like 'The Dotterel' says, it's lovely to get that spring feeling again – that stir of anticipation that comes with lighter nights and warmer days. We managed to start with a lie-in (even though, technically speaking, we didn't actually have a longer sleep than usual) as George followed his body clock routine and not BST.

George loves his routine and will even walk to the foot of the stairs when we tell him it's time to clean his teeth or go for a sleep. In fact, he's so reliable that mummy no longer sets her alarm clock for work! Which is a lot more than can be said for Postman Pat, whom I have noticed is rather unreliable. If he isn't getting his parcels mixed up, or leaving his van open so that they fall out, he's mislaying them so that some dog runs off with them. Occasionally he even breaks the items he's meant to be delivering. Even if he's not the best of role models, I'm hoping George will take note of the rest of Greendale and learn from their tolerance.

As you may have noticed, there's not an awful lot to report this week. I did want to post a video, but by the time I'd retrieved my camera the moment had passed, so if I describe it you'll just have to use your imagination... George spots his red mittens in a basket and won't shut up until we help him put them on, then he walks into the lounge and up to his Thomas the Tank fuzzy felt thing, then looks first at mummy then at me in utter bewilderment at the fact he can't pick anything up.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

From PC to non-PC... and cars

The generation gap and way things are constantly changing manifested itself quite spectacularly over the weekend.

On the one hand there was our niece who has started working and studying childcare. She spends most of her week on placement at a nursery and has to abide by certain regulations. They include things like not telling a child they are being naughty, but telling them that their behaviour is making her sad; not saying pooed your nappy, but using the word soiled instead; and not telling them the right or wrong way to make pretend tea in case it is contradictory to their traditions and offends their cultural background.

On the other hand there was George's great nan who is about 93 or 94, and at Sunday dinner, when George didn't really want to eat any more because his teeth and gums were a little sore, asked him if he wanted a punch on the nose!

George seems to be amassing quite a collection of toy cars (actually, I quite like collecting the Hot Wheels ones myself), and they seem to end up getting everywhere. Whenever it's time to leave the house he will pick up as many as he can, gathering them in his arms and attempting to bring them with him.

What tends to happen is that he drops one and when he bends down to pick it up he drops another one, so he bends down to pick that one up and drops another one, and so on and so on.

Over the past few weeks we find them in all sorts of places...

On the stairs...

In the kitchen...

On the coffee table...

The bookcase...

The bathroom...

And at tea time, of course!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Birthday party fun

George went to a fancy dress 5th birthday party this week and even though it was his first party and he was just about the shortest person in a room of five-year olds (and mummies and daddies, of course) it didn't seem to phase him and he had a whale of a time.

It turned out to be a super party and it certainly looked like all the children enjoyed it – there was even a fire-eater who blew flames up into the air (outside and away from the helium balloons).

Ava, the birthday girl, looked fab with her fairy wings but George was most interested in anyone who had something on their face and kept following a little girl dressed as a black cat just to get a closer look at her black nose and whiskers. He also sneaked up on Spiderman and Batman, perhaps in the hope of revealing their true identity.

George was dressed in a Disney Cars Lightning McQueen outfit and his hat remained on his head for what could be measured in tenths of a second - this being the split second before it was flung on the floor.

George spotted his mechanic outfit coming out of the washing machine the following day and wanted to put it on, later he saw it drying on the radiator and wanted to put it on, then he saw it folded and ready to go away and wanted to put it on. On Monday he wore it over his pyjamas for half and hour before he got ready for his day at nursery... I think it's time we put it somewhere where he can't find it for a while.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Flat as a pancake

It was Pancake Day this week – well I assume it was as I had a phone call from mummy on Tuesday to say I could give George pancakes for tea.

Daddy being daddy interpreted this as 'pancakes for tea' and not 'pancakes for pudding' – so I was a little bemused when mummy got home and asked what George had for tea, and she was a little surprised to find out he'd just had pancakes (with a little syrup, of course).

"What's this? ... Call this dinner?"

I expected George to love the pancakes, after all, most kids think it's their lucky day when they get pancakes for tea, but George wasn't overly impressed – after eating half his pancake he decided he'd had enough.

"Hey, hold on... what's going on? This dinner is sweet!"

I'm sure he's got his daddy's savoury tooth and would have preferred some fish pie, chicken casserole or gammon and peas, but after giving him his 'pudding' I could hardly give him a dinner afterwards. He ended up with a banana which he seemed more than happy with – especially as he could walk around the house with it.

Next Pancake Day I'm going to make him Yorkshire Puddings with gravy instead.