Matthijs had a really creepy nightmare (it nearly gave ME nightmares) about threads falling from the ceiling on to him. In my best pop-psychology manner I tried to give him a “weapon” (a plastic hammer) to chase them away with. Unfortunately our little pragmatist then informed me that he could not hit the threads with the hammer because they were only inside his head… Not to be defeated we then told him to fill his head with nice thoughts and to imagine that Marjolein was eating up the threads like spaghetti….
Marjolein finally (with some trepidation) started basketball again. Her last club faded away due to lack of ladies (terrible fate) so she, and the other survivors headed for a larger club. Naturally she is a very out of shape, but also very determined to get back in shape and Marjolein is much keener on competition and team play than on repetative excercises. Though she hates being slow and short of breath it lifts her spirits to get back on the field. Matthijs was very pleased that mummy was going back to basketball (the boys have been to a few of Marjolein’s matches) and drew a beatiful picture of mummy with a (surprisingly accurate) basketball.
11 November was Saint Maarten and the boys went out with lanterns to sing for sweeties. The school works all these traditions into their classwork and he had learned a number of special songs and made a very handsome lantern, as had Daniël. His cousin Ramses came over from Amsterdam for the occasion (nine years old and very serious-minded) with a hand carved calabash lantern and Hannah, the girl next door came too. Daniël could not really sing along but he waved his lantern vigourously and hummed the melody with added vowels and animal noises. Everybody spoiled them rotten and it was entertaining to see Matthijs and Ramses discussing (heatedly) which song they should use at the next doorway.
Saint Nicholas arrived in the Netherlands this month (it is a busy month for the kiddos) and I took the boys into Haarlem center to see his boat arrive. Naturally it was a huge crush and the Saint’s motorcade sped past rather as if he was expecting snipers on the rooftops. Fortunately I was able to bike through a couple of alleys and cut him off at the pass, so the boys got a second look and had gingernuts pressed into their sweaty little palms by a Black Peter. Matthijs concluded that Saint Nicholas therefore existed in the real world and not just on television: he already makes a sharp distinction between things that are really real (this world) and televison stuff (the “other world”) like Pippi Longstocking. He does have some difficulties with Disney’s “Dinosaur” because dinosaurs really did exist in “this world”.
Matthijs’ school is running a Black Peter theme and he was allowed to go to gym-lessonn dressed as one. Daddy therefore had to search Haarlem for a shop that sold BP hats and wigs. They did Black-Peter exercies (throwing packages in cardboard chimneys, clambering over roofs etc.) and received a handsome diploma for their efforts. They also made gingernuts (pepernoten) with the student teacher. The story is that “Pepino”, one of St.Nicholas’ Black Peters, was late getting to the Netherlands and had nowhere to stay, so he is living in the school. All the children have to do things to look after him (sing songs, make pictures etc.) and Matthijs made him an exciting book to read.
Of course the boys are putting out their shoes for Saint Nicholas. Matthijs has it all worked out and explains it relentlessly to Daniël who is perfectly happy to put his shoe out by the woodstove (with a carrot in it for the horse) and sing and dance the traditional songs. After that he laudably wants to neatly put is shoe back in the hall cupboard, an impulse we are loth to suppress. It looks like our household actually possesses a naturally tidy person…finally. At school he made and coloured a paper shoe for Saint Nicholas and was so proud of it that he carried around for hours and could not get into the car on his own, put it down on the table for five minutes….etc.
Everyone has a rotten cold and the boys have been on cough syrup for a couple of weeks now. Marjolein took Falco to the doctor because he cough was so persistent that she worried he was working up a bronchitis. It was not that bad, but he did have some congestion in his lungs so the doctor prescribed ventalin to open up the passageways and help him clear the mucus.
Then Marjolein did her back in (easy to do while you are still de-pregnanting) so I spent a couple days at home looking after the beasts. Marjolein HATES being dependent on others but just could not do the bendy, pick up and put down stuff. Even getting out of the house was a trial: we still have scaffolding out front, so some limbo dancing is required…
Daniël has a new trick: if he wants you attention and is not getting it quickly enough for his liking he puts both fingers in his mouth à la wolf-whistle and says “ieeeeeep”. No idea where he got that from, honest. Marjolein is not sure how to react – it cracks her up, but she refuses to be whistled up like a sheepdog.