This week’s milestones

Passport photos must be…..

Passport form


Daniel asleep  Daniel asleep

Double hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..

Daniel asleep   Daniel asleep

Hopefully this one…….?  After all the notes don’t actually say that you can’t look drunk.

daniel passport

Never work with children or animals. 

Other significant milestones of parental achievement…

Not only did I make it onto the bike without splitting my stitches, but I managed to transport all three of us (that’s me and the smaller two of my men) into town on it.  Joni has his own little seat on the back, and Danny straps nicely to my front in the baby harness.  He’ll get his own seat on the cross-bar when he’s about six months or so, in the meantime wearing him works out fine. 

We caught up with the washing… three days of damp and drizzle would play havoc with anyone’s domestic organisation, and ours isn’t very at the best of times.  Fortunately the sun put in a half-hearted appearance and we were able to push five loads through just in time for the smallest not to run out of nappies and the next smallest not to run out of trousers.

This evening we finally lit the fire after holding off for a couple of weeks trying to kid ourselves that it isn’t really cold, except that actually it is… there’s been frost on the ground several mornings when we’ve been walking the dogs.  Our next job will be a little tour of the lanes to gather ourselves a store of firewood; we’re currently using up last year’s remnants which have sat in the garage for the summer.

Mini- and Micro-me


Chip off the old block?  Charlie’s angels; or Hazel’s Charlies?  (“Can’t you manage to look pleasant for 1/500th of a second?” Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes)

Today some complete stranger stopped me in the street and asked “Is that a real baby?”  I’d like to hope that she meant “That baby is so little / bald / white / cute he could almost be a doll”, and not “you look like someone who might take their dollies for walkies”.

Today we started the process of applying for a birth certificate at the civil registry.  This is a four stage operation:

Stage One.  Go to civil registry, take numbered ticket and sit in line for an hour or two in order to collect a list of the pieces of paper that you need to bring with you next time.  (If you’ve already registered a child then you might risk missing out this stage, except that the rules change quite regularly, and every province operates their own system).

Stage Two.  Gather your pieces of paper, currently required;

  • Paediatrician’s certificate “A child was born”
  • Gynaecologist’s certificate “A child was born to this woman”
  • Mother’s DNI (national ID document) “This woman is officially recognised as existing”
  • Father’s DNI document “So is this man”
  • Mother and Father’s marriage certificate (if unmarried, both parents have to attend and sign another piece of paper to acknowledge joint culpability in producing this child)

Stage Three.  Return with your pieces of paper, take numbered ticket and sit in line for an hour or two in order to have your documentation officially acknowledged as being in order.  Receive a written chit with a dated and timed appointment for around a week’s time. 

Fortunately by having a little friend in the civil registry we were able to miss out stage one by visiting her at home, and, better and better, we also avoided the queuing part of stage three since friend caught my eye when as we arrived this morning so we found ourselves whisked past the queue, hurried round to the staff side of the counter and our paperwork checked in a jiffy while Daniel distracted the colleagues by looking cute.  So now we have made it to:

Stage Four.  We’re hoping this is the one where we actually receive a birth certificate. Our appointment is next Tuesday; we’ll let you know! 

Sleepless in San Francisco

Daniel's first picture

Newly hatched and underwhelmed

  Joni and Daniel      Joni and Daniel

New brothers “swop” presents

DSC_0001     DSC_0003

Road testing his first set of wheels

Quote of the day…

"Joni you’re such a slave driver”  “No I not.  You’re the train driver”. 

It is possible that some little-published mathematical law states that two children equal ten more than one.  Nevertheless, so far we are all wearing our own clothes in conventional configurations, and meals are happening in their traditional order even if the timings need some work, so we may be making progress towards establishing some sort of routine at some stage.  We’re hoping that sleep may turn out to be one of those unlockable features available by downloading service pack 2. 

He’s a lot more fun out than in; and as for the bit in the middle, all I can say is Genesis 3:16. Joni stayed with friends on Monday night and Martin brought him in to see us on Tuesday morning.  The first thing he decided was that the baby needed a present, so off they disappeared again on a present-choosing mission, followed by a little handing-over ceremony… soft-toy crab in lurid colours for Daniel, and a big green truck for Joni.  The rest of Tuesday passed in a blur of feeding, phone calls, more feeding, receiving visitors, more feeding, medical professionals coming and going, and more feeding… He came out demanding steak and chips, and has since progressed to onion rings on the side with death-by-chocolate to follow.  The hospital wanted us to stay in till Wednesday, but when I asked, no-one could think of any reason why we shouldn’t go home on Tuesday evening, so we went. 

And now here we are, learning to be four.  So far we’ve gathered up the sundry baby-related items from various storage holes around the house (OK, normal people might have done that before the baby actually arrived).  We’ve been round town a couple of times doing odd jobs and buying other bits of stuff (how can we possibly not have any bibs; or are they still squirrelled away in a household storage hole?).  We bought a new pram/pushchair type thing in a “can’t lose you in the supermarket” shade of red (thanks for the gift Granny and Grandad!).  I even took the dogs for a (short) walk this morning (on foot rather than bike; stitches in a location incompatible with cycling).  We went visiting this afternoon; friends from church, one of whom conveniently works in the civil registry, so she gave us all the information we need that we can hopefully register him in the next few days, and we called in at the plaza for a bit on the way home.  And we’ve managed to deliver Joni on time to nursery two days running (which is almost more efficient than we manage in an ordinary week!).  Apparently he went in to nursery yesterday and told them that the baby had come out, that his name was Daniel, and that he is this small… (hold up right hand and with thumb and fore-finger indicate a distance of about 4 cms) so the staff were surprised to meet him at going home time and discover that he’s pretty much standard length for a new-born. 

And tomorrow’s another day, whatever it might hold.  It feels like quite a long way away yet; on the far side of whatever might happen between now and then… To sleep perchance, to dream??

Currently listening to…

My child’s latest impressive scientific discovery (pre-Copernican astronomy):

“Look mummy, that’s the sun coming up.  Later the sun goes down and it gets really dark, and in the morning the sun comes up and it gets all light again.”  It was a jolly fine sunrise as we walked the dogs together; all red behind the silhouetted trees on the skyline. 

The (male) Scout leaders:

“When did you say your baby was due… flippin’ heck, what are you doing here… don’t tell me you came on your bike… you can tell she’s imported… if that was an Argentinean woman she’d be lying around in bed demanding we wait on her… she’s more like one of those aboriginals, they’re tough birds…”  I suspect it’s a compliment, personally I’m hoping that if I keep moving he might be encouraged out more quickly than if I give him too many opportunities to get comfortable. 

The predictable response of the local police department when we reported our village mother missing:

“She’s an adult, she’s free to go where she wants”  Of course… as long as she is free to go where she wants, and so far we have no proof that she has freely gone anywhere.  And where the experiences of her life so far are sufficient to convince you that she’s not worth giving a damn about, I would argue that they render her vulnerable enough to look for.  So you might consider doing something to demonstrate that the bird-poo on your shoulder has some useful value.  (actually I didn’t say most of that, but I did say enough that they grudgingly extracted some details.  Whether they do anything with them…). 

The parallel stories of two kids needing surgery:

Stories of the injustice of life, albeit for different reasons.  Go check out Tia’s blog for one of them.  The other is my mate here, who should have had his hip surgery a month ago, but may not get it at all unless we can locate his mother, or demonstrate conclusively that she is no longer his primary care-giver (i.e. by her voluntarily signing him over, having him forcibly removed from her care, or being proven deceased).  Bureaucracy takes priority over medical need; after five years here maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Martyn’s Joseph’s Dolphins: 

That’s truly a blast from the past, I hadn’t heard it for years, but I did a YouTube hunt since he came into my mind as I was ruminating on the sheer offence of the injustices that some people have to go through.  I can’t remember what album I had Dolphins on (aged cassette… possibly still languishing in a loft) but it was live, and I remember the spoken introduction used to kill me every time “…because this world could never be the way it was supposed to be…” 

Martyn Joseph… a blast from my past

Dolphins make me cry….

Don’t know what the world is going to do
Or if we can get off the road that we’re on
There’s hate in my brother’s eye but as the time goes by,
I get harder.

They say we learn by our mistakes and then we carry on
Sometimes I’m not sure, sometimes I’m not sure
There’s no brakes on this car as it rolls down the hill
My muscles are straining now, my foot’s through the floor.

Perhaps that’s why, perhaps that’s why…
I see the dolphins and it makes me cry
As I look in your eyes, I look in your eyes
As the time goes by, makes me cry.

Don’t want to go to school anymore today
Because history, she keeps on repeating herself
She can’t forgive; she just licks all of her wounds
Sore is the day, and sore is the night.

Perhaps that’s why, perhaps that’s why…
I see the dolphins and it makes me cry
As I look in your eyes, I look in your eyes
As the time goes by, makes me cry.

When I was a boy, when I was growing up
I remember life was so simple; life was so sweet
Now that I’m older, I’m wise as a fool
I keep on breaking those golden, golden rules…

And perhaps that’s why, perhaps that’s why
I see the dolphin and it makes me cry.
As I look in your eye, as I look in your eye
As the time goes by, makes me cry.

Perhaps that’s why… …
I see the dolphin and it makes me cry.
As I look in your eye, ask I look in your eye
As the time goes by, makes me cry.

Did you ever touch the loneliness of a broken man?
Did you see a starving child die?
Do we really do these things to one another?
Do you see why…
Dolphins make… me cry.

Dinosaurs’ Day Out

Dinosaur book cover

This is one of Joni’s favourite books at the moment, which means we read it at least once most days.  It’s an interactive story involving maps, and planning an outing, and then “helping” dinosaurs Dexter and Daisy through the various stages of carrying out their plan. 

By the time we reach the centre pages:

page from dinosaur bookpage from dinosaur book

assuming we have been paying attention so far, then we will know that the “right” answer at this point will be to continue along the main road and follow the traffic past the duck pond. 

However, Nick Sharratt probably hadn’t reckoned on a little boy who takes it as a given that normal lives would naturally involve straddling two continents;

“No…. they have to go to the airport and catch a plane to see Granny and Grandad”.  

He is un-persuadable, so our Dexter and Daisy’s day out to the forest involves a detour by plane to England en route.  Which is probably more exciting anyway.  Should we publish? 

You say “fatty”; I …er… don’t.

Language is inextricably bound up with culture, and every culture has rules about what is and isn’t acceptable to say in public.  Here in Argentina “why?” is almost a dirty word, and is tied up with the verb “cuestionar”, meaning "to question” which is a definite no-no.  To question is to disrespect, and being asked “are you questioning me?” means that you are being accused of deliberately dissing someone.  What I can’t figure out is how (if?) it is even possible to find out about the reasons behind someone’s decision making processes in this linguistic climate… which may explain why there is no really apt Spanish equivalent of “accountability”. 

The British, on the other hand, have all manner of sensibilities regarding forms of address used for strangers, where no such squeamishness exists here.  In the fruit and veg shop I am usually “negrita” (little blacky; there’s irony for you), and in most other contexts I’m normally referred to by strangers as “flaca” (skinny… though not at the moment).  In my current state, at Scout leaders training the other week I became “chica embarazada” (pregnant girl).  However, this all becomes positively tame in the light of my experience yesterday… 

I was sitting in a clothes shop, taking mate and chewing the fat… (I’d put some warmer clothes on Joni for the first time in several months, and discovered that all his long trousers had taken on the appearance of bermuda shorts; we’re going to have to stop feeding that kid.  Luckily a friend from church has a clothes shop and she did me a hefty discount for buying in bulk.) So anyway… I was sitting in my friend’s clothes shop taking mate and chewing the fat with her, when in walked a large lady, hoping to buy a coat.  Cue shop assistant rifles through stock looking for a model to fit.  No luck.  Friend is called to help.  Still no result, but a solution could be just round the corner, or rather 600 kms away; “Are you in a hurry?  My husband has gone to buy stock in Buenos Aires, so I could call him now and we’d have some here when he’s back tomorrow… OK, let me just ring him then…” 

There then followed the most amazing phone conversation, during which I could feel my eyebrows disappearing into my hair-line and finally up to the ceiling somewhere as I listened to our side of it…. “Hi… I need you to bring a couple of women’s coats… but outsize… no not just XL I mean like actually supersize… you remember those really huge ones that so-and-so sold us that time… well kind of like that, only at least two sizes bigger… yes really…. humongous”.  All of which was taking place within two feet of the coatless lady, and yet neither side so much as batted an eyelid, much less appeared to find anything usual or embarrassing in the exchange.  Which I guess means it must have been perfectly acceptable behaviour.  Call me British, or call me a coward; I’m just not sure I would dare try it. 

Blessed are the Cheese-makers

That was one helluva week that was.  I’m still reeling from it.  And yet, it was also strangely good.  Life is a perverse experience at times, one day I might get used to it.  There was a whole bunch of stressful things planned… people…. meetings… into which another whole bunch of stressful unplanned things decided to insert themselves without asking permission….  and then somehow by the end of the week, even the unplanned stresses had managed to untangle themselves like unwinding a ball of wool after the dog’s been at it. 

Tuesday morning the prison phoned to say the social worker was coming to interview us at ten o’clock.  Sure enough, at eleven o’clock a marked car arrived, complete with social worker, psychologist and armed guard alias driver.  The latter sat outside… to protect the people inside, or merely to ensure that our neighbours are persuaded that not only are we mad (as they already believe) but that we are also dangerous.  Tuesday afternoon, I was driving with the grandmother from the village, when we were hit from behind by a truck.  Luckily both vehicles were still driveable, but the visits to his insurer and ours took care of enough of the rest of the afternoon.  Luckily he was deemed to be at fault.  We’re still waiting for the damage to be officially assessed.  So till then, our car is easy to spot in any car-park; apart from being the dirtiest (usual scenario), it is also the bent one.  We’ve since heard that the professionals from the prison have given us a glowing report, so whatever they were scoring us on, it certainly wasn’t the tidy-ness of the house. 

Tuesday evening the planned people started showing up.  I know why the Bible says “blessed are the peacemakers”; because they jolly well deserve their mansions in heaven.  And whatever God blesses me for, it will not be for any skill or grace of mine in conflict resolution.  But his grace is bigger, so peace is made and relationships are restored, and hopefully we’ve all been strengthened in him, as well as in our relationships with each other.  Like I say, I’m shattered, but it was strangely good.   Now I merely need to come back to earth and do something useful with the week which we seem to be already halfway through (where did that go?), or that baby’s going to be showing up any day soon and I won’t be ready for him (is anyone ever really ready, or am I just pathologically underprepared?).