Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Five Cinderellas of 2013

This year has been a bumper year for me  in terms of page views (relatively speaking!) but, by way of a round-up, here are 5 posts from 2013 that, for whatever reason, never really went to the ball.

1.  Some More Successes
I started the year with a round-up of the boys' recent successes - sort of a words-only version of the snapshots that other people post of their children's achievements. I could never resist the urge to boast about them just a little bit!

2. Dubious Expertise
Here I let off a little steam about the plethora of 'experts' that invade your life when you become a parent.

3. Little Lives Big Issues
Reflecting on NB's final contact with birth family.

4.  In the Minds of the Children
The difficulties of explaining fostering and adoption to our children's peers in a way that will inform but not terrify them!

5. Love and Money
Who'd have thought it? The one day I go into a Beautician's and someone says something that sets me off on one! Thoughts on the relationship between doing something for the love of it, and the need to put food on the table.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Children's Tsar Wastes Breath About Smacking

Children's Commissioner
Dr Maggie Atkinson

Children's 'Tsar' Maggie Atkinson has said in an interview with the Independent that she believes that smacking should be made illegal. Unfortunately she has once again squandered an opportunity to win round those who didn't already agree with her by totally failing to employ any sensible arguments to back up her opinion.

Whatever views one holds on the great smacking debate, I would hope that we could all agree that we expect the holder of such a high-profile post as Children's Commissioner (funded, of course, by public money) to be able to defend a point of view with more than emotive language, a middle-class sense of outrage, an apparent belief that all rational people must surely agree, and an implication that anybody who thinks differently is tantamount to a child abuser.

Let's take a quick look at some of the main points she makes:

“Personally, having been a teacher, and never having had an issue where I’d need to use physical punishment, I believe we should move to ban it”

This is irrelevant. Schools are not at all the same places as homes. Teachers do not bear the final and ultimate responsibility for raising children - parents do. Teachers have recourse to a higher authority when facing disciplinary problems and, as a last resort, the child can be excluded from school and the discipline problem removed forever. Parents do not have this luxury. Teachers spend a few hours each day with large groups of children, punctuated by regular breaks and evenings and weekends off in an environment where there are lots of other adults around. Having been both a teacher and a parent, I know that these two situations are in no way comparable. Oh, and teachers are allowed to use 'reasonable force' in managing extreme situations, so the myth of no contact hardly applies.

 “Because in law you are forbidden from striking another adult, and from physically chastising your pets, but somehow there is a loophole around the fact that you can physically chastise your child."

This is a common argument used by anti-smacking proponents - it's not ok to hit an adult so it shouldn't be ok to hit a child. But it's a flawed argument. There are many, many things that we do to children that are not usually appropriate to do to an adult - spoon feeding, bathing, nappy changing, making them sleep and play in cages (cots and playpens), making them wear reins or hold our hands, keeping them in detention at school, making them sit in disgrace on a naughty step - the list goes on and on. We treat children differently from adults because they are different. Children are not miniature adults and it is the responsibility of the adults around them (specifically their parents) to keep them safe, care for them, educate them and train them until they are able to function independently. Whether physical chastisement should be a part of that is a matter of opinion, but this particular argument does nothing to advance the debate.

And on the issue of physical violence not being acceptable among adults, I'd love to know what Dr Atkinson would do if she found an intruder in her home and she happened to have a heavy frying pan in her hand. Even among adults, we accept that under certain circumstances, physical action can be acceptable and even necessary.

“It’s a moral  issue. The morals are that, taken to its extreme, physical chastisement is actually physical abuse and I have never understood where you can draw the line between one and the other."

This one makes me crazy. Anything, if taken to extreme, can be abuse. I encourage my son to drink water but if I held him down and poured it into his mouth, that would be abuse. I think I know where to draw the line. I allow my son certain freedoms. But if I allowed him total freedom so that I did not prevent him from being put in danger, then that would be abuse. Maybe Dr Atkinson doesn't know where to draw the line, but parents have to find that balance every single day of their children's lives. Why should they find the line between physical chastisement and abuse any harder to find than, say, the line between encouraging healthy eating and force feeding? Laws already exist to define abuse and punish those who are guilty of it. Banning smacking because some people abuse their children is like banning beer because some people abuse alcohol.

“Better by far that you are taught not to need to use physical strength against a weaker human being.”

Parents turn their physical strength to their advantage all the time when dealing with children. We carry them where we want them to go, lift them into their cots, high chairs etc. even when they protest, hold them in a vice-like grip while the doctors stick them with vaccination needles, pull them from danger and so on and so on. What's the difference between using your physical strength in those ways, and using it in a disciplinary context? Clearly there are certain circumstances where it is acceptable and even desirable for parents to take advantage of their physical strength, and those who say that physical chastisement is not one of those circumstances need to do more to explain why.

How can anybody hope to persuade or convince others of the validity of their views when the standard of debate is so appallingly low? The BBC website report on this same article states: "The NSPCC has said evidence is building that smacking is "ineffective and harmful to children". Well, if there is so much evidence, then why doesn't the Children's Commissioner use some of it to back up her opinions? Either the evidence doesn't exist, or Dr Atkinson is not interested in it.

And why should she be interested? Far too many of those appointed to positions like Dr Atkinson's seem to live in a sheltered world where everybody basically holds the same views, and anybody who doesn't is considered ignorant. Opinions are regularly presented as self-evident facts with nothing to support them except emotive rhetoric.

The comments below the BBC article pretty accurately demonstrate how effective Maggie Atkinson's comments have been in winning over doubters. At the time I checked there were 55 comments, overwhelmingly disagreeing with a ban on smacking. Of the few that agreed that smacking should be illegal, almost every one relied on the tiresome illogic that smacking children leads to violent adults. This is not only patently untrue, but rather insulting to millions of adults who received the odd smack as a child and yet have managed to live lives unpunctuated by acts of random violence and subsequent lengthy prison sentences.

For me, the smacking debate is not really about smacking. It's about how far the government should be able to reach into people's homes and private lives with their legislation. As a person with growing libertarian tendencies, I'd prefer less government in my house, but I do understand that sometimes legislation is needed to protect from a well-evidenced threat. Hence I didn't object to the ban on smoking in public places.

But if the government is going to legislate about what goes on in an individual's home then the legislation should be based on strong evidence that has been well-established and debated (not just personal distaste for the choices and lifestyles of others) and there needs to be a consensus that education alone will not achieve positive results. The debate over smacking is rarely, if ever, dignified with actual research evidence to support either viewpoint. 

Such legislation also needs to be enforceable. Passing legislation that is effectively unenforceable cheapens the whole body of the law, and encourages the attitude that the law only matters if you get caught breaking it. We already have laws to protect children from physical abuse and we are clearly unable to fully enforce these as recent high-profile cases have demonstrated. How will it add to our ability to protect children from abuse to have law enforcement bodies prosecuting and criminalising parents for giving their kids a smack on the back of the hand?

If the Children's Commissioner truly wants to see a ban on smacking, and is at all interested in convincing people of her point of view, then she needs to get serious about presenting a well-informed and properly evidenced argument. Otherwise, she is just blowing hot air in the faces of people who already agree with everything she says, while provoking everyone else to become even more entrenched in their opposition.

Come on Dr Atkinson - surely you can do better than this.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Year Worth Remembering

This has been a life-changing year for us. I thought I'd summarise some of the highlights, momentous occasions and special little moments by picking out some of our Facebook statuses from over the past 12 months(ish!):

4 December 2012
Adoption panel approves of me - it's all good!

23 January
NB has had a 'good self-esteem' week, doing really well in his Speech Therapy assessment yesterday and even better in his SOGS today! At last, he got the flippin' spoon in the cup! Scored 6-12 months ahead on 4 out of 8 areas :-)

29 January
Once, in Tesco, OB saw a toy rocket. He calls it "pocket". Every time we go to Tesco he shouts "Pocket! Pocket!" all the way round the shop. Today I relented and bought him the rocket. I may be a soft touch, but as I watch him playing with it now, opening the doors and moving the little men around, I don't care a bit!

26 February
I love that OB calls me Mummy. Mind you, when he says it 200 times in 30 minutes, it does start to lose a little of its charm!

2 March
The boys are playing a game we'll call 'tig'. It involves putting all of the place mats on the floor and then jumping up and down shouting "Tig! Tig!"

10 March
For a Mothers Day gift to myself, I should have taken us all to McDonalds for our tea. This would have avoided the inevitable wailing and cries of "No like it!" that accompany any meal I actually make from scratch myself! Sigh.

12 March
April 9th, me and OB are finally getting our day in court! (Although we won't actually be there - just a judge and a few other legal types). How very appropriate, just a few days short of our 2-year anniversary together :-)

17 March
NB has just sneezed with a mouthful of porridge. Carnage!

22 March
Went to get NB up from his nap today and his tank top was all pushed down round his waist with the v-neck stretched to 3 times its usual size. As I write this, OB is looking at me with a custard beard. I think both the boys need a little more input into their self-care skills :-)

9 April
Thrilled beyond measure to be able to change OB's online designation to MS - my son! Happy Adoption Day to us!

12 April
I just picked up the keys for my new house!

23 April
NB is going to get a new Mummy.  I've broached the subject and he seems quite pleased at the idea. OB, on the other hand, did look a bit disappointed when I told him he's stuck with the Mummy he's already got!

3 May
About to meet NB's new Mummy. Nervous!

11 May
Dear City fans . . . it has just dawned on me that I have managed to arrange OB's Adoption Celebration Party on the same day as the FA Cup Final! Sorry about that - it wasn't done on purpose, honestly!

13 May
Well, the legal processes, special events and celebrations are all over. Today feels like the first day of the rest of our lives :-)

20 May
The builders are in at the new house. Big bits of it are already missing! :-)

27 May
NB woke up this morning and said "poorly tummy" with a very sad look on his face. Then he came downstairs and scoffed two bowls of Cheerios and a packet of raisins!

7 June
Just booked the flights for our summer trip! :-)

12 June
You know you're mentally getting ready to move house when lovely and useful household items take on the new and more sinister identity of 'piles of junk that will need to be packed'!

15 June
Have just reactivated my personal Twitter account and tweeted for the first time in two years!

21 June
First day of NB's introductions.  Butterflies.

26 June
Packed our bags and printed off the maps. Ready to go for phase 2 of intros!

8 July
I have internet. And a new address and phone number.

22 July
OB is quite excited about visiting Mamy and Papy. He's hoping that it'll be Christmas like it was last time :-D

11 August
Had an email from NB's new mummy today - he is getting on splendidly and has treated her to a couple of excellent meltdowns. Now, there's progress!! :-)

16 August
I have fitted a carpet and hung a blind (much to my own amazement!). The nursery is finished and I am ready to work again!

25 August
Today, OB and I baked our first cake in the new house. While it was cooking we went out and did a spot of gardening and disturbed a toad! #newwoman #livingthedream

5 September
Off we go! OB's first day at Playgroup - the doors opened and he ran straight in without so much as a backward glance!

14 September
OB spending his first night in his new big-boy bedroom :-)

20 September
Today, five months after I signed on the dotted line, I have moved the last bits of furniture over to the new house. I am officially moved in!

30 September
Got absolutely none of my jobs done tonight. But that's ok because I spent 2 hours chatting to NB's new Mummy on skype instead! :-)

25 October
New baby is here! We'll call him Little Boy - LB. OB's response? "Look Mummy! He's got a mouth!"

27 October
First night in OB's big boy bed (at last!). He was suitably excited, asking to go to bed for at least an hour before bedtime.

11 November
We're going to see NB on Saturday! EXCITED!

16 November
Great day. Took 3 hours to get home. Exhausted! NB looks great and was an absolute sweetie :-)

25 November
This is the first night in weeks that OB's not come sneaking downstairs seconds after I put him to bed. Hooray! Now let's see if we can get through the night without the 2am face-slap wake-up call!

26 November
OB's first swimming lesson.  Plenty of crying.

13 December
It's Christmas tomorrow at our house! Spent all evening wrapping and decorating!

25 December
Merry Christmas everybody - our first as Mummy and son.

Monday, December 23, 2013

While Shepherds Watched

For a while now, certain songs have been forbidden in our house. Any attempt of mine to break into, say, 'Twinkle Twinkle' or 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' has been met by cries of, "No! That's Playgroup's song! You can't sing it!" This has been particularly awkward when OB has accompanied me to choir rehearsals and got quite vocal about our rendition of Away in a Manger.

It must be Nativity season!

I've been to the Nativity at my son's Playgroup quite a few times now. Various of my friends' children have graced the stage as innkeepers, sheep or whatever over the years, and of course last year, NB had his starring role as a shepherd. Every year it is the same simple, tried and tested format - as the teacher says, five weeks to prepare, five minutes to perform! But they do a marvellous job with this motley collection of 2-4 year olds, and there are always mince pies and other cakes afterwards.

Funnily enough, OB was also a shepherd, and he actually was wearing the same costume that NB wore last year.  I positioned myself near the back with the camera so that I could stand up on a chair and try to get some photos (both photos and videos were allowed, along with a heartfelt plea that parents would not post images of other people's children on the internet - I hope they were listening!).

I'm not sure what I was really expecting. OB had sung a few words from the songs in the house when he thought I wasn't listening, but I hadn't heard him sing any of them all the way through. A rendition of Baa Baa Black Sheep I heard about a week before the Nativity performance went something like, "Baa baa black sheep, full full bags, full full master, full full dame" so I didn't hold out high hopes for total accuracy on the day.

He was brilliant.

I genuinely couldn't believe it. He stayed by his chair, stood up and sat down when told to, went off to the manger to see the baby Jesus when instructed, and sang every single word of every single song. I was so shocked to see how competently he joined in with it all that I almost forgot to take photos!

And there was something else that was brilliant about it too. My son's extended family couldn't be there for his first nativity as they live hundreds of miles away. The only family member available to turn up to see him was me.  And yet he had no less than six other people in the audience that day who had come to the Playgroup Nativity just to see him do his shepherd thing. It is good to approach our first Christmas as mummy and son knowing that my little boy will lack nothing that love can provide for him.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Secret Santa

Our Weekly Adoption Shout Out (WASO) online group is doing a Secret Santa guest post shareathon for Christmas this year, so today's post is a guest post from fellow WASO blogger Getting There - my first ever guest post on this blog!


So in case you haven’t realised yet, Christmas is coming...

Here in my house, we could tell that Christmas was on its way as soon as the half term holiday was over, and big boy started shouting (he’d say singing) random snatches of Christmas songs. Since he went back after his week’s holiday things have been different... presently he keeps telling me he painted a box green and red.

The school (Foundation stage) show came and caused controversy... ‘what did that letter mean, that we couldn’t video it or take photographs during it? Why not?’  On the whole the show was wonderful, the message was given and... my boy was skilfully managed, both through what he had to do, and also disappearing at the end, so everyone could take photographs.

The Church nativity has been held, with one small shepherd not quite managing what he should do, going in and out of the scenes at will... but nevertheless, the nativity happened and as is said every year ‘wasn’t it wonderful’, ‘the best yet’ and lots of carols were sung.

The presents are brought and wrapped (mostly). The cards are written (mostly). The what are we doing when, is sorted (mostly). The we have to keep the grandparents happy plan has been put into place... it only involves me cooking for 14 people on one day! The tree is decorated, and has been declared pretty by those that matter...or at least one small boy.

And the excitement is building in big boy... he knows now that Christmas means presents. He also knows it means Father Christmas, which isn’t so great – as people keep telling him, if he doesn’t behave he won’t get any presents (which I gently correct with – if you try to behave well you will still get presents...trying is enough).

Christmas is coming, the excitement is building, and we have plans in place. Plans that include walks, outside spaces and calm. I don’t really want to curl up under a duvet (at least not totally), because I love this season, with all its nonsense and joy and hope. And all the way through our wilderness years, we hoped every Christmas that this would be our last without children... we’ve had two Christmas’s with just one boy, and our family has grown again. Come Christmas eve here, the Christmas Elf who checks that we are at home will be delivering 4 sets of pyjamas before reporting back to Father Christmas, we will be hanging out 4 stockings (in the living room, he is not allowed upstairs) and some of us will be watching a Christmas movie, until sleep takes over.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all find joy in some way, however your Christmas comes. And for those who are living for January, remember that too will come. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Comes but Twice a Year!

We had Christmas at our house today! Yes, I know we're early but because we will be flying to my parents for the actual day and the luggage allowance doesn't really accommodate taking all of OB's presents with us, we have become a two-Christmas family.

This is the second Christmas I've had with OB, but it's the first Christmas where it's just been the two of us and, to be honest, I really felt that today. We made it special - I was up late last night festooning the living room with decorations, wrapping presents and placing them under the tree. But there's no denying the fact that the present-opening was all done before 9am and, although OB was happy with his presents, I really missed the oohing and aahing and general excitement that is generated by just having a few more people around.

The odd thing about having Christmas not on Christmas Day is that, obviously, nobody else is having Christmas. There is no special movie on the TV or Queen's Speech or any of the other things we take for granted at Christmas, even if we don't pay much attention to them. Of course, we had special food, but OB doesn't really care about that (he declared the roast dinner I had made "dirty" and only ate the lamb and the pigs in blankets!). He wasn't even bothered by his mince pie, and he usually loves those.

Thankfully, I had arranged to go round to a friend's house and do a present exchange with their children, so we had tea there and there was plenty of excitement between the three of them when it came to opening presents. I loved watching them together comparing their presents and saying how cool they were and for a moment it did make me feel a bit sad that OB is an only child.

So, I've resolved to plan a bit better next year for our English Christmas and try to create something that is unique for the two of us and not just a quieter re-creation of the proper Christmas, which we will be doing brilliantly in France on the 25th with all of my family anyway. There, OB will get all the excitement and the people to share it all with, so I'm not really worried he's missing out. We'll find something different to call our English Christmas, and try to invest it with a meaning and set of traditions all its own for a Mum and her boy to share together.

Merry sort-of-Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I'm a rejecter. Seriously. I do my very best to make a habit of rejecting all kinds of truisms, inevitabilities and givens.

Like the 'terrible twos' for instance. OB has just finished the twos, and parts of last year were hard work to be honest. And the threes have started off in pretty much the same vein - many good things, some hard things. But I'm not blaming it on the 'terrible twos' or the 'terrible threes' for that matter. To do so feels like a cop out.

Yes, two-year-olds often tantrum and display challenging behaviours. Does that mean I can just shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh, he's two!" whenever it happens? After all, everyone knows about the 'terrible twos' - it's inevitable isn't it?

I feel similarly about 'teenage rebellion' - the 'Kevin' syndrome - which is also, apparently, bound to happen, practically unavoidable and just something to grit your teeth over until you can get to the other side.

Except it isn't unavoidable is it? I know teenagers who, in the main, speak respectfully to their parents, discuss the things that are troubling them, ask for help with things and do things together as a family. I'm not saying they are perfect and never do anything a bit naughty, just that they aren't quite in line with the awful caricature.

For me, once we accept something undesirable as inevitable, then it is far more likely to be so. Low expectations lead to low outcomes. Putting my son's wilder moments down to 'terrible twos' allows me to stop focusing on my child, to stop trying to work out what's actually happening, to stop training and helping and boundary setting. It allows me to shrug my shoulders and effectively do nothing. Putting any future teenage difficulties down to 'teenage rebellion' will have a similar effect of letting us both off the hook. And don't get me started on 'boys will be boys'!

It's not that I think that by challenging these things, they won't happen at all. I'm not such an optimist! And I've been around an awful lot of children. I know better. I just have an instinctive desire to push away all those so-called inevitabilities that seemed to have my son's life mapped out from beginning to end, and especially those associated with having been in care, and being adopted. None of these things are immutable laws of physics (and we know ye cannae change those!). So I reject them and instead decide that we'll work together towards something different. And if we meet tantrums, rebellions, or adoption-related issues along the way, we'll do our best to see them for what they are, find a way through and get the support we need.

Terrible twos? Rejected. Teenage rebellion? Rejected. Because he's adopted he's bound to have x/y/z? Rejected! Rejected! Rejected!


Written for this week's #WASO, on the theme of 'Rejection'.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fruity, Fruity, Fruity!

And so we plough on through the fruit section of Mary Berry's Baking Bible. Feeling buoyed up after the success of the Apricot and Cranberry Fruit Cake recently, I eagerly turned the page, only to find a recipe for Rich Fruit Cake, which Mary describes as suitable for "Christmas, birthdays and all special occasions".

Oh dear. A Christmas cake. My first instinct was to skip straight over it and go onto the intriguingly-named Quick Boiled Fruit Cake on the next page. There's such a sense of tradition, history and mythology surrounding the perfect Christmas cake.  Everyone has a mum or grandma that makes the definitive version. In fact my own Mum used to weigh down the Christmas table every year with a rich, dark, fruity, boozy creation the size of a small tanker. It was wonderful. Was I ready to make my first ever Christmas cake?

And if I was, what would I do with it? We won't be spending Christmas at home, and even if we were, I'm not sure how much headway OB and I would be able to make through what was clearly going to be a big, big cake.

In the end though, I was persuaded to go through with it by a friend who said she'd be delighted to have it as a Christmas present.  Brave I thought, considering she'd have no way of knowing if it was even edible until she cut into it on Christmas Day in the presence of her entire family!

So, I went shopping. I needed more dried fruit than I have ever seen in one place before. Even my very biggest mixing bowl was barely large enough to contain the mixture and I had to buy a new, bigger cake tin to cook it in.  And the time it takes! Four to five hours slowly baking away. Somewhere near the end of cooking I thought once again how nice it would be to actually have a skewer rather than just poking away at the thing with a butter knife and trying to decide whether what came out could count as 'clean'.

Of course, I can't taste it, but I think it's ok. Possibly the very edges have just slightly caught - there was a faint smell of singed currants, although it was hard to tell through the fog of brandy fumes!  It was only after I'd finished the bake that a discussion with a friend triggered a long-buried memory about how my Mum used to do it. The whole time I was carefully double-lining the tin with baking parchment, I was troubled by a feeling that string should be involved. Surely my Mum used to do something with string, didn't she? Well yes, she did. She used to wrap the whole tin in a sort of baking parchment 'coat', all tied up with string, to protect the edges of the cake. It rose way above the sides of the tin to protect the top too.

I wish I'd remembered this before I put it in the oven!

Honestly, the whole thing was such an effort, and I was so pleased to give it its first feed and wrap it in the baking parchment and foil and hand it over to its new owner that I completely forgot to take a photo of the finished cake!  And we'll have to wait until well after Christmas for a verdict on the taste, although I have high hopes that regular feeding with brandy will cover up any little flavour issues.

Not to worry though, as I do have a finished photo of the aforementioned Quick Boiled Fruit Cake that I also baked this week.

Not a looker is it!

This was a very strange recipe (well, to me anyway) which involved simmering the dried fruit in a mixture of condensed milk and butter. I double-checked the recipe, but for me there seemed to be far too little liquid in the pan for any real simmering to take place. We achieved something more like a squelchy gloopy fruit effect. On reflection, perhaps I should have worked harder to get a smooth finish to the surface of the cake before I put it in the oven.

Ah well, you live and learn!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Now We Are Three!

Oh dear, my baby is no longer a baby! Yes, OB has turned three and already I'm missing being able to say "He's only two!" when he's doing something crazy while we're out in public. Ah well. Time is linear and there's not much we can do about it I suppose.

We marked the occasion with all the usual trimmings: presents, cake, party, meltdowns! Well, not so many meltdowns to be honest, but combining birthday excitement with a heavy cold was always going to be a bit tricky. OB's interests remain pretty constant.  He's still heavily into his guitar and drums but we did a Rock Star Party last year, so this year I went with another favourite: space rockets, which he has loved ever since becoming engrossed in Wallace and Gromit's 'A Grand Day Out' for the first time nearly a year ago now.

The cake this year was a massive
chocolate brownie - so easy to make
and decorate!
I didn't go mad with the theme, but we had an astronaut den, black cups and plates with space stickers on them, a flying saucer-making table, rocket fruit kebabs and of course a rocket-shaped birthday cake.

Games were themed as well. We played musical statues, but the statues were all space-themed, and we played a move to the music game, pretending to be comets, planets, astronauts on the moon and so on.  With ten lively toddlers in the house, it was worth the effort to keep their energy focused on games instead of tearing around the place madly!

Another favourite at the moment is Peppa Pig. Since we got the TalkTalk box and discovered that we can have Peppa Pig on Play All at any time of day, I've had to impose TV viewing restrictions for the first time ever! So there was a Peppa Pig theme to the presents with a fairground playset (including a train - most favourite so far!).

I also went for a selfish present and bought him some Lego. I know, I know he's probably too young for it yet, but I have very fond memories of playing with Lego as a child, and I'm always looking for something I can play alongside him that won't have me crying tears of boredom after ten minutes. OB always wants me there when he's playing, but I'm never allowed to actually touch any of his toys without express permission - he's very territorial. I'm hoping that he'll let me sit with him and build some things while he builds his own things (as long as I let him have the pieces he wants!). Lack of bases was always my frustration when I was a child, so I bought four large bases and glued them to the top of an old, battered IKEA Lack side table to make a giant building base. I'm very excited about it, even if OB doesn't really get what it's all about yet! Here's to many more years of Lego fun!