Stunning weather March

We started the month by “losing” the battery charger for our digital camera and hence the use of the camera shortly afterwards. We thus discovered that (a) Canon charges vast amounts for battery chargers and (b) you can find ANYTHING second hand on I ended up buying one for next to nothing (with spare battery, so handy) from the skipper of a “Tjalk” (Dutch sailing barge) in Muiden. Her camera had been stolen and the new one had a different charger, so we were both better off. It’s an ill wind…

But as a consequence of the batteryless period we have no pictures of Matthijs’ tryout at gym class. We have been looking for a sport club for Matthijs for a while: give a focus to all that energy and build some skills at the same time. We have concluded that the unfocussed energy is a major source of random wickedness, so.. It is no picnic for Marjolein, she still has the other two and has to fetch and bring for a relatively short period.

On the energy-naughtiness note: Matthijs has been having a tough time at school. The teacher has been working him hard (for the same reason we took him to gym) but he finds the work tediou and (shockingly for us) announced that he does not want to go to school any more.

His teacher is also concerned: he is highly mischievous and extremely verbal. Heattempts to talk his way out of things and does not accept flat statements easily. He also does not readily accept the authority of an adult, unless they establish if for him in some way. The teacher(s) do not expect to get arguments (especially good ones) from a four year old and they do not always handle is well: we either explain and allow him some influence or entirely close down the discussion, depending on circumstances. He has great difficulty sitting still in a circle while other children talk: he wants what he wants and he wants it right NOW!

The gym class is one of our responses to this situation: he could choose between gym and judo and he plumped for gym (also because some of his buddies go to gym too and they can fight each other in spare moments).

The tryouts for gym pointed up some of the differences between Matthijs and Daniel. Matthijs was on the mats, trying things and telling his story to everyone before we had even finished getting Daniel into his gym kit. Daniel, in contrast, took a long hard look at the situation from the safety of Marjolein’s lap before venturing out. When the gym-teacher told everyone to form groups Matthijs immediately put his arm round the boy next to him (who did not like it) and declared that they were best friends. Daniel stayed clear and was a “free agent” for the rest of the session.

It was an excellent set-up, with all kinds of climbing, swinging and jumping games in a big circuit: Matthijs’ was in his element. After 20 minutes and some coaxing Daniel tried a couple of things and then took off like a motorised mouse. Though he was a slow starter he demonstrated that his climbing and general coordination are excellent.

This month there was also a big reorganisation at school (they are setting up an extra toddler class to cope with the large number starting this year) and everybody had to be a cat or a bird. Marjolein found a face-painting kit with a book of examples and decided that Tigers fell within the definition, so the Matthijs was a tiger and Daniel was a bear. Daniel was not actually part of the celebration but perish the thought that you should face paint Matthijs without including Daniel. Daniel was originally tigery but wanted to be a bear instead (because we have a bear-suit). Marjolein has now demonstrated considerable skill in this area so I now delegate all future face-painting to her (demonic laugh).

Daniel story: Daniel came in from playschool right grumpy so I decided to try and jolly him out of it by pretending to take his bad mood out of him and trow it away. He then got REALLY cross and wanted HIS bad temper back right away. No stealing Daniels emotions, he won’t stand for it.

The speech therapist was in schoold and took a look at Daniel. Her conclusion was that he has a huge vocabulary, good grammar, seperates Dutch and English correctly and dud pronunciation: no news there. She recommended exercising his mouth and tongue-muscles, so he got a list of exercises: blowing bubbles, licking ice-creams, picking up raisins with his lips etc. All fun stuff but often contradictory with the polite-eating rules that we have been hammering into the boys.. oh well. Fortunately we have litres of bubble-stuff because Marjolein has a recipe for it.

We moved them into own rooms this month: they keep each other awake now and wake each other up early. Just now Matthijs will also want to have friends in to play without Daniel being all over them.

Setting up their own rooms involved us moving our office to the library, clearing part of the library (14 crates of book went away) and buying new beds for both of them. The house is thus a mess, but (we cry) we are getting there…

Daniel had inherited knowitall tendencies from somewhere (naming no names…). When Matthijs (who makes the typical “lazy” bilingual mistake of substituting the nouns from the other language) said “Pappa, can you give me an aardappel please”? Daniël piped up with “No ‘Thijs, you must say ‘potato'”.

Daniel is quite frighteningly capable. He quite easily goes to the refrigerator and pours himself a nice glass of yoghurt-drink, without spilling anything. Better yet he goes to the shed (with kitchen steps in hand) if there is not enough in the package in the fridge and gets a new package. We only found out because we noticed the level of yoghurt drink in the package had gone UP. He also fills his bubble-blowing tube from our big two-litre bottle without spilling much. He is the one of our children I would vote a “most likely to survive the fall of civilisation”. If Daniel is motivated he can do amazing things. If he is not motivated you cannot budge him with dynamite. Sigh. He LIKED Marjolein painting his face and has extended his self-help into this area too. She only popped up stairs for five minutes to put a wash in, but that is all he needs to carry out a plan with lipstick. “Look momma, ME clow-en!” he said triumphantly.

Falco is every fatter an cheerier. He is now armed with one razor-sharp tooth (on the dot of seven months). He is very much his own man and not like either of his brothers: he sleeps on his side (Matthijs back, Daniel front) seems to be getting green eyes (Daniel brown, Matthijs, blue) and can be both absorbed in a toy (like Daniel) or a wicked flirt (like Matthijs). Falco did not bother with the transition to baby-food. He cut back a tiny bit on the mild and ADDED the food. I now believe that he contains a small black-hole: he absorbs large amounts of matter and is inordinately heavy.

He is the most amazingly jolly, cuddly, inquisitive and alert baby. He smiles his head off when he catches your eye, gurgles like crazy when you play with him, grabs you hard with both tentacles when you pick him up and almost invariably looks deeply serious when you take his picture. The above is one of the few smiling pictures we have been able to take, but it is what he really looks like.

Falco is great fun. He now passes things from hand to hand, holds them in one hand and examines them with the other, turns over (and back with some difficulty) and puts his big toe in his mouth. Very much a baby’s baby. He is very communicative, waves his arms and legs in a meaningful fashion and makes all kinds of talking-sounds, especially when he has just woken up in the morning: I go past his room and hear him muttering to himself and whacking his toys on the bed-rail.

Classic Falco suppertime: pot of six-months food, two yoghurts and then a quarter of a litre of milk (each of these is a meal for most babys). Black hole, definately.

Marjolein’s has been following the Irak situation very intensely this month, scanning news sites and reading blogs (web logs by people involved, including Iraquis). We also both got fascinated by the work of an American “flash” cartoonist, Mark Fiore, who has a fabulously cynical cut on US policies.

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