Matthijs having fun at the playground and Daniel trying to outstare the bedroom light

This month Marjo took Daniël to the postnatal clinic for his standard check-up and to check on his hernia. We had noticed a bulge in his groin some time earlier and fortunately had the presence of mind to document it with the digital camera. Marjo made this into an tremendous multimedia document which utterly impressed/intimidated and totally convinced the doctor. Since it has only occurred once in the last four months we and the doctor hope that it has quietly healed itself. We shall see. If it reoccurs he will need (minor) surgery, under a full anaesthetic so we would rather avoid that if we can.

On Friday the 9th Marjolein disappeared for a weekend in the woods with the Cyberwomen from mailinglist X leaving me with the kiddos. As far as I can tell this involves a weekend of very extended conversations. Takes all sorts… Us guys had a fine time (chips featured prominently) and Marjolein came back in time for the evening of the 11th, which is “St Maarten” in northern Holland. This is the day that children go from door to door with lanterns singing for sweets, and it is pretty popular with the little monsters (surprise, surprise).

Matthijs had made an egg-box lantern at playschool and learned two of the traditional songs: “Saint Martin, St Martin, all the cows have tails on, girls have got their skirts on, now St Martin comes along” etc. (loses a little in the translation). On the day itself he scampered off with his cousin Ramses and had a fine time. Daniël trotted along beside him with a wide chubby grin, humming as convincingly as he could and whacking people with his lantern. Of course, if a child trundles round the neighbours all evening singing a song and getting sweeties every time he does so, this is a powerful learning experience (Pavlov and so on). Naturally Matthijs considered that St Marten should be a permanent feature of his life and sang the songs continuously for days and days.

Shortly afterwards we took the boys to the birthday party of our neighbour Marten and rolled Matthijs forward (holding gift) to sing happy birthday. Naturally what came out was “Saint Martin, Saint Martin…”. We immediately told him that this was for ordinary Martin, not the Saint. So he tried “Martin, Martin, Maaaaartin, cows etc.” until we bludgeoned him into singing Happy Birthday

As soon as we got clear of Saint Martin, Sint Nicholas, the Dutch variant on the Christmasperson, arrived in the Netherlands with the predictable quota of traditonal songs. Naturally these got mutated by Matthijs and ended up containing cows and girls too. He also had inherited from Marjo the tendency to invent his own lyrics and we ended up with some very odd songs indeed. I am sure that St Nick appreciates them just the same. Both Matthijs and Daniel have been putting out their shoes (not socks) for the Saint at intervals and he has filled them faithfully so far. Daniel of course thinks that putting out shoes involves wearing them and dancing around humming along to whatever wierd new song Matthijs is singing.

This month we were also blessed with central heating. Up to now we had been perfectly happy with our gas-fires, but they were a bit to dicey for the children’s rooms and the new boiler does produce lots and lots of very hot water for my morning shower.

This was also the month that I turned forty. That did not bother me much as I got all the mid-life stuff out of the way when I turned thirty. I did however notice that everybody read my character correctly and got me toys, CDs and tickets to the Harry Potter film: I am obviously young at brain. We celebrated more decorously than usual (usual = big noisy party with kids, dogs, food and drink going in all directions) by going out to eat (very nicely) with a few friends.

At the end of the month Marjolein’s cousin Judy from Australia came to stay with us for a few days. She brought her charming little daughter Laani with her, who is almost two and fits in nicely between Matthijs and Daniël. As you can see, St Nick gave them all animal hats when they put their shoes out.

It was rotten weather so we took all our beasts out to a couple of ginormous indoor playgrounds with every possible slide, climbing frame, rocking-thing (no horses) you can imagine. Everything was covered in foam-rubber so we could abandon them to their own devices and sit comfortably watching them from the sidelines. They all raced around like maniacs, had a wonderful time and slept like rocks.

Marjolein also took Daniël for his regular checkup at the end of the month and we were amazed to find that at 18 months he is apparently a little lighter (10.6 kg) and smaller (81 cm) than average. Nothing to be worried about, but quite astonishing given how much food disappears inside him. He must be building a second Daniël somewhere secretly.

For comparison, Marjolein’s best friends daughter (who was born the same day and was much lighter) now weighs in a 15 kg.

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