Daniel starts feeding himself but has not yet realized that spoons are more efficient; especially with fluids

This had to be one of our busiest ever months We were booked solid from one end to the other. First we went to a barbeque with two couples we made friends with on our camping holiday in France and their children. That was a great success with both the boys, but particularly with Matthijs as he got very attached to Joris, who a little older than him and just as lively and enterprising. We all contributed to the food and the Noyce family entrant was a genuine British trifle. I was quite surprised that people liked it: I am used to getting a lot of smart remarks about British cookery.

Then we went to the “Parade” in the Martin Luther King park in Amsterdam with our friends Robert and Ilse and their sons Simon and Sebastiaan. The “Parade” is a wonderful, baroque combination of a fairground, street theatre and cabaret where you are entertained, amused and conned by turns. Needless to say it appealed greatly to all the children.

The highlight was undoubtedly the “poffertjes” (small Dutch pancakes)stand where the children could go inside and do the cooking themselves. Matthijs and Daniël ran around at high speed, looking at everything. Matthijs pointed out a “sad doggie” to us: we did not understand until we realised it had no tail (so it could not wag it). Matthijs also fearlessly went up a high wooden tower with Daddy: as soon as Daniël saw us up at the top he toddled all the way round it to the entrance (how did he know where to go?) and determinedly climbed the (open) staircase to the top. Both of them gave us the creeps by testing out the rope surrounds and leaning over to wave at the people below.

Robert and Ilse and their sons stayed with us that weekend and it was quite an adventure for Matthijs, sharing a room with the two older boys. They got on very well, though sleep was not a high priority… This was a useful test for us for when we put Daniel and Matthijs in one room later.

I think we can safely say the Matthijs is over his fear of showers: he demands one practically every day now and stays in for ages. That was a good thing because the weather suddenly swung from cool and gloomy to furiously hot. Marjolein took the whole brood to the beach (last week of the holidays and full to bursting) with her mother, sister and Ramses. Matthijs and Daniël ran/toddled and played in the waves.

The next weekend we finally managed to visit Marjolein’s aunt and uncle in Drenthe where there was both a huge sandpile in the garden (Matthijs started major public works…) and a vibraphone in the living room (Matthijs invented some new and often horrible new musical styles). He was actually quite melodious on occasion and we cannot help noticing that he is strongly attracted to music. Something to develop there perhaps.

The weekend after that my mother, sister and brother came to visit, so Daniel and Matthijs ended up in one room. Naturally there was crashing and squeaking at midnight, but when Marjolein went up to read the riot act she found Matthijs (loudly) throwing his lego blocks into his toybox. He refused to stop on the grounds that he was tidying up. Since we often browbeat him into tidying up his blocks Marjo had no answer to that. I think he will grow up to be a lawyer, politician or criminal or some combination.

The little monster keeps you on your toes. On seeing a road safety advert where a girl gets run over after chasing after her ball, Matthijs, very dry: “that was dumb”. He has a point; he is very careful with roads and always waits for us and looks both ways. Matthijs is also becoming genuinely useful around the house: he lays the table, tidies up, puts litter in the bin and even helps put away the shopping (in the right places). His imagination is developing fast: he runs elaborate stories with the bath toys, throws grumpy crocodiles into the toilet and turned his rocking-horse upside down and told Marjolein it was a motorcycle.

Daniël is also going great guns: he climbs everything, including the slide and slides down on his bottom. He has also started flirting with people and waving joyfully at complete strangers. There are still not many words, but he is obviously much more focussed on communication than last month. He nods and shakes his head for “yes” and “no” and often flabbergasts us by correctly acting on quite complex sentences. I remember this fase with Matthijs: you keep on underestimating what they understand because they cannot yet speak.

We were hoping to have a school photograph of Matthijs to put on the site by now, but he absolutely refused to take part. That is most uncharacteristic, but nothing the teacher could do would persuade him to participate. Just for once, he did not want to be center stage. The picture we do have shows both young gentlemen busily engaged in cooking (with real pots and pans). They are both fascinated by this as it is a momentous task that occurs in the amazing kitchen and is one of the few activities they are kept well away from. I dare say the charm will fade when they have to cook for themselves…

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