This time last year the Hulk was still inside mummy. Marjolein is VERY glad she can put him down now…

Halfway through this month school started again for the boys, but we still had two glorious holiday weeks of almost continuous perfect summer weather. Unfortunately the couple of dull days we did have coincided neatly with a visit by our friends from Belgium. Even so it was warm enough to go to the local lake and swim and of course there was nobody else there…

The kiddos (ours and theirs) had a fine time, chasing around, swimming, building sandcastles and of course burying each other. Most of the sandcastle building was actually done by the grown-ups: we suddenly got the bug again and created a nicely proportioned post-Norman design with a keep, curtain wall, barbizon and (tricky this) entrance gate. Scratch the man, find the boy…

We spent our last holiday day at the “Parade” in Amsterdam: a sort of travelling circus cum street theater thing that comes round every year. We have always been very fond of it, but it is now suffering from its own success. Where it always used to be a collection of cheap-cheerful-strange shows and stands it has evolved into a theater festival with prices to match. You used to get lured into tents by plausible barkers only to be surprised/cheated/amazed by some cheap trick: one of my favourites was being shut up in a box covered with gaudy icons for a “religious experience” just to be surprised by a loud bang, cloud of smoke and a very bright spotlight. Now you have to buy tickets in advance for most things and it is PACKED. End of an era… The boys did have fun on the swings however and very seriously and carefully made their own “poffertjes” (dutch mini-pancakes).

And then it was back to school (and work) again – quite a shock for all concerned – but it was good for the boys to have some more structure.

Marjolein eased the transitional period by picking them up from school and (weather still beautiful) going straight to the beach or the lake. She sometimes had a struggle to get them out in the sunshine: now that they have games on their computers… I put “Starcraft” on Matthijs’ PC (after much begging) and he is addicted. Marjolein claims that it is all my fault and sniggers under the blankets when he comes along at seven on Saturday morning to ask me how to do this and that…

Other than that Matthijs is in a nice phase right now, talking nineteen to the dozen about everything under the sun, with the occasional hilarious slip of the tongue: he talks (logically) of Gulliver and the mini-putians. He had also developed a personal theology in which god created a sperm and an egg and put the sperm in the egg. This grew and grew until it burst open and the first baby came out. He also speculates that we are giants for bacteria just like giants are giants for us. He had already reasoned that we might be just bacteria on the head of a (very, very big) giant. His suggestion for improving you health is that white blood cells should have swords so that they can fight germs better: yes, we did discuss basic immunology with our four-year-old, we are geeks and proud of it.

All this discussion of germs and how your body fights them was a result of him catching a nasty little bug in the last week of the month that laid him low for almost two days. He walked right up to his teacher at school and told her that he should go home and sleep right now because he had pain in his head and a heavy feeling in his legs. Of course we had told him that when people were ill they should sleep lots so that their bodys could fight the bacteria. He had stored that in that little round head of his and applied the knowledge the first chance he got.

Daniels loose front tooth held on for a long time and then mysteriously vanished, so the tooth fairy is spared the big payoff until they all start falling out. We do not want to emphasis the reward aspect: they might start pulling each other’s teeth out…

Daniel is now fully potty-trained. He has the occasional little accident, but is now definitively out of nappies. We have promoted him to “big boy” and he now gets a grown-up knife and fork at suppertime.

His talking has got much, much better. He uses long sentences (somtimes longer than he can manage) and is pretty understandable except when overwrought. That is mostly due to Matthijs having committed some real or imagined enormity: a good example of this is opening the door for Papa when he comes home. I have on occasion been firmly pushed outside again by Daniel so that he can be the one to open the door. Sigh.

Strangely enough he now prefers to speak English to Matthijs when they are playing together and when he is playing on his own. Good for the bilingual bit I suppose.

Falco is now shuffling round the furniture and sometimes lets go for a moment before slowly falling over. He will probably take his first steps next month, but you never can tell. He does things in his own way and has surprised us by going from making front teeth to molars. I note that our beasts are in most ways superbly adapted to eating stuff and this is yet another example. If all we had were barnacles he would probably grow tusks.

We had a compact birthday party for him on the 22nd with just Marjolein’s parents and sister and short visits from some friends and the neighbours. That was partly because we thought a cast of thousands would not be fun for him and partly because the same people are invited to Matthijs birthday in three weeks. In fact we probably could have stacked up the warm bodies: Falco was, as he almost always is, in an indestructibly good mood. He wolfed down his birthday cake in a relatively decorous way and was cheerful and active until well and truly past his bedtime. Jimmy was a little disappointed with the lack of flying cake (he did well out of Matthijs and Daniel) but did manage to get some stuck to his fur. It was good that Falco was so tireless because Marjolein’s brother turned up and we made it into a family meal in the garden, whipping up stacks of poppadoms, stir-fry and chicken for the multitude.

When he finally keeled over I just carried him up to bed, whacked but still smiling… Such a nice baby!

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