More advice for life

This week’s piece of good life-advice is for mummy: “Always organise the bath before you remove the nappy”. Now he’s learning to roll, he is no longer safe to be left on the changing mat (tendency to end up in the sink!), and hoiking a squalling, squirming, poo-coated creature under one arm while trying to fill the bath, find towels etc with the other hand is not an experience that either party would be rushing to repeat.

We had Joni’s one-month checkup yesterday. He now weighs in at just over 4 kilos and he responded very well to all the poking and prodding. Luckily he likes human contact in just about any form, although he wasn’t entirely pleased with the lady taking blood out of his heel. Next week we have to go back for another blood test, as his hemoglobin levels seem to have fallen quite rapidly. Mummy and daddy are trying to decide how concerned we ought to be at this stage, given that baby appears to be healthy in every respect, but we’re not medics, so we’ll see what they say next week.

Joni's face in slingI improvised us a sling using a single bed sheet, mostly for the times when he is grizzling but doesn’t appear to want anything. It’s not Joni’s favourite mode of transport, but in the scale of things he likes it better than being abandoned to whinge in his cot. This is the view I have of him when I cross my eyes and look down my nose…

Hazel wearing Joni in a slingHere we are cleaning the bathroom together… To be honest he’s not a great asset to the cleaning process. But he is quite useful as a fashion accessory to hide my “not quite yet back to pre-pregnancy” stomach.

Joni with cot mobileSome lovely friends sent us some money for Joni, so we had fun shopping for presents. This is his favourite, a cot mobile with beany-animals, which spins around and plays a truly dire version of Frere Jacques. Joni loves it. Martin is hoping that his musical tastes might improve as he gets older. He played him Beethoven’s Eroica the other day to try and help the refining process along a bit…

Joni on playmatAnd this is a multi-sensory baby gym type affair including a textured mat, and things hanging over the top of it. He’s just getting the idea that a good swipe at one of the hanging rattles makes for a satisfying noise. We’re hoping that he might see this as an interesting environment for practising his skills, as an alternative to swiping the contents of the bathroom work-surface onto the floor, and rolling himself into the sink…

Mothers’ Day

“Dear Son, Here is a piece of sound advice to see you through your life: Biting the nipple that feeds you is generally considered to be bad form.”

Today is mothers’ day in Argentina. Historically the mother-son bond has been the rock upon which society has teetered, and to this day mothers continue to have an elevated status, so mothers day is a huge event. These days of course it has been hijacked by the multi-national corporation; people spend ridiculous amounts of money on presents, and then spend all year paying back the credit. In fact in the newest shopping centre in Córdoba there is even a shop named “Edipo”, which I can’t imagine would be a selling point anywhere else in the world.

Leaving aside cynical commercial exploitation of the Oedipus complex, the day does have some nice aspects in recognising the importance of family and the woman’s role in the family. It is celebrated in forms both traditional; from several generations of a family round a table sharing a meal, to complete strangers stopping in the street to wish each other “feliz día”; and modern; sending and receiving text-messages and emails with friends.

The other theme of this week is contrasts… the season has leapt from winter woollies, to summer sweltering, without pausing for breath in the middle. Spring and Autumn seem to be optional add-ons around here. Joni is going around in his nappy, with the rest of us wishing we had such liberty. I am reminded that I come from a climate whose central feature is tepid. I like tepid. I know what to do with tepid. I wonder if our tepid island climate is partly what gives the British our characteristic distrust of extremes; we know about living with grey, it hangs over our major cities. Conversely, there are currently other areas of our daily experience where restoring some black and white from the grey fuzz would be no bad thing… night-day, light-dark, awake-asleep… funny how we don’t know how much we appreciate something until it goes missing…. Martin is wondering if we can download an upgrade module to include a volume control and a stand-by mode.


Our carNow we have a car. It’s not as photogenic as a baby, but it is more functional as a method of transport. We received some insurance money from Martin’s road accident; and Dany, our friend and colleague in Latin Link Argentina was selling his car. It seemed like a good swop, and saved us from having to deal with dodgy secondhand-car-salesmen. Dany also did all the paperwork with us which was a big bonus, knowing what we already know about paperwork and Argentina.
Accustomed as I am to owning motorised wheelbarrows held together with string and double-sided sticky tape, with a tendency to do unpredictable things like spontaneously set light to themselves on the A1, this one is without a doubt the newest, poshest machine I have ever driven. A 2006 Chevrolet Corsa, with the full set of bells and whistles, it is so new and shiny that it is almost a shame to take it out and make it dirty.


Us at Joni's presentationThis is us looking halfway scrubbed and presentable at Joni’s official presentation at church, which took place on Sunday.
church leadership team praying for Joni The presentation / dedication ceremony is a little rite of passage in practice in many churches, particularly those who reserve baptism for adult believers. We were brought to the front, Joni held up for all to see (imagine sound-track with lots of ooohs and ahhs), the elders prayed for him and for us, and he was officially welcomed into the family of the church.

Ruben presenting Joni to church Exodus 29:41 “Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning—a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire”…. Oops.. wrong passage….

Don’t know about twilight, but we were having a rethink about sacrifices at 2 o’clock the other morning… in the end we decided it would probably be more socially acceptable to put him in his pushchair and go out for a walk instead…


Us with Joni at San MarcosThis little person in our lives is 40 cms long, he does nothing except eat and sleep, and yet he has taken over the universe. Forget WMDs, if you’re looking for global domination, this is the real thing. How does he manage it? At three o’clock this morning while I was feeding him (need to have something to think about if we’re going to be awake at three in the morning) I realised that eight out of every 24 hours are taken up with the feeding / changing thing. And that’s before we factor in the washing, shopping, cooking, and all the other aspects of “general living”.

I am enjoying the many opportunities for little creative projects on route… yesterday found me busily winding pompoms in primary colours to hang on the cot and push-chair, now that he’s started really looking at things. Run out of nappies? (OK… should have been more organised with the washing…) Go buy a roll of terry towling and make a batch. We’ve already discovered that light fleece material makes great re-usable liners. I would like to claim that I’ve become a domestic goddess, or even an earth-mother, but a quick glance around the house would tell a different story (photo not about to be included!)

Argentinian Identity DocumentMonday we were back to the civil registry for another “Argentina day”. That took three hours. Then we thought we’d “pop” into the post office. That took another two hours during which we nearly lost the will to live a few times. Note to self; “pop” and “post-office” should not be used in the same sentence. We are very grateful for three things… one, that we live in a country where it is perfectly socially acceptable to breast-feed ones baby in any queue that one happens to be sitting in; two, that we managed to get out of the post-office alive; and most of all, that Joni now has his Argentinian DNI (ID document). We’re ridiculously excited about that, if you think about Argentinian paper-work as a game of snakes and ladders, then we’re like a pair of little kids who’ve rolled a six to go up one big ladder.

Joni with Gisela and Jimena in San MarcosThursday we went to the childrens’ home in San Marcos for the first time since Joni was born. The kids have all charted the progress of my growing belly from gestation to three days before the birth, so it only seemed right that they should meet him in real life while he’s still new and little. Inevitably we ended up doing some work, impossible not to, but mostly we spent the day playing outside in the sunshine, while Joni had a whale of a time being mauled and prodded by young and old. Luckily he really likes people, noise, movement, and going on the bus!