Friday, 30 April 2010

The glucose challenge test

I did not appreciate being told by my GP today that I needed to stop eating for two and do some exercise. That is so unreasonable. What did she expect? I was told six weeks ago that today I would be sitting a "glucose challenge test." I am always up for a challenge and I wasn't going to fail this one. So I've been training. Obviously. I'm nothing if not diligent. And preparation ALWAYS pays off in a test.

I started myself off easy at the start - one Snickers a day. Then I thought I'd better add some Coke. Can't beat that for pure glucose content. Then I moved on to chocolate waffles for some variation. Lately, lemonade has been added to the diet. All these have been applied liberally on a base of chocolate spread and pastries.

Today was the day. I woke up early, stretched, and started the day off with some orange juice. (The sugar content of plain orange juice never fails to impress me.) Some sugary tea and a biscuit were consumed mid-morning. It was the glucose equivalent of resting before an exam, doing only some light and quick revision.

Then this afternoon, as prescribed, I dissolved my 50gr of glucose in a glass of water, added some lemon for taste, and confidently drank it, knowing that I could have done no more to ready myself. All my hard work over the past six weeks was finally going to pay off. An hour later, I proudly presented myself in the doctor's office for the blood test, knowing I was in particularly fine glucose form. And then that woman has the nerve to complain! That offends me.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Another reason every mother should have date night

What a day!
  • spilled milk all over the place (seeping through the different parts of the table and the floor)
  • to the shops with a walking toddler who insisted on taking her doll in the small pram
  • playground with both kids for picnic
  • Marie got hit by a swing and ended up covered in sand. Eyes, mouth, snotty nose. As if she'd been sculpted entirely out of sand.
  • Had to take her, crying, and a pram, on the walk to take Jack back to school.
  • School gate closed. Huge detour to get to other side of school. Did I mention the crying toddler covered in sand and the small bloody pram?
  • Obviously Marie had to go in the bath before her nap. What with the fucking sand. (I'm sure I've mentioned this.) Forgot about sand in shoes. My bathroom now resembles a desert vista.
  • Thank fuck for naptime, is all I can say. Even got some sleep myself.
  • Another school run.
  • Dermatologist for verruca. At the lovely hospital of many stairs. Miraculously we hardly had to wait.
  • Chemist to deliver foot cream prescription.
  • Had to deliver on earlier bribe "Be good at doctors and you can have picnic in garden."
  • Back to chemist to pick up foot cream.
And now date night. I have no energy. But I see it as a little present. I could go to sleep or hang in front of the TV all night. Instead, I get to sit outside on a terrace with my lovely husband, enjoying a spaghetti and the unseasonably warm weather. Worth squeezing out the extra five drops of energy I have left.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

I don't understand

I don't understand
  • friends who run a mile when you are nice to them, then get friendly every time you act aloof.
  • how learning to use a potty can be so difficult.
  • why I don't want to go to sleep in the evening and desperately want to stay asleep in the morning.
  • where the thin line is between happy and sad just now.
  • Twitter.
  • other people.
  • myself.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Back to basics

So many reasons to be happy. I mean, I'm pregnant for fuck's sake. As if that wasn't enough already. A list:
  • I started my day with five minutes of meditation.
    (Oh yes, the mindfulness is back with a vengeance. Maybe this time I will keep it up rather than use it as a medicine - again.)
  • I planted these with my own hands. Gardening is also meditation.

  • I'm remembering to want what I get, rather than get what I want.
  • These are on my table. They are easy to want.

  • I'm remembering what An, may monchichis surprise her at every turn, said at the weekend:
    "Don't just do something, stand there!"
  • This hydrangea survived the winter, precisely because I didn't do anything, just stood there. (Thanks Ms. Moon for advising me not to prune it like mad for once.)

  • I have time to walk my children to school. I have time to amble to the shops and teach Marie to count to three by letting her take three boxes of tissues from the shelf. I have time to stop and chat to people I meet in the street. I have time to play "Try to lick my face" with Marie for ages. (Offence is the best defence, as in so many of life's games.) I have time to stop at the playground later, at Jack's request.
  • I have time for this:

What makes you happy today?

Monday, 26 April 2010

Eternal despair always lasts shorter than expected - I should remember that

So I had one of THOSE days. No, actually, yesterday was one of THOSE days. Today was just one of those days.

Yesterday, I was all tears and ETERNAL DESPAIR and more tears and then lots of pretense because I had a concert to sing and a concert of Jack's to applaud.

Then today - milder despair but despair nonetheless and I always think it's NEVER GOING TO END. Ever. Luckily the children had school and creche so I could pull out the phones and just hide under my blanket.

This evening I finally decided to see what you'd all been up to and I switched on the computer. And now the despair is sadness. And I know there's an end to it. And I know just to wait until it ends. Because this just happens sometimes. My confidence gets knocked, and all the self-esteem I've been building up just vanishes. It takes a while to find it again. I visited all my usual blogs (I didn't comment much - give me a few days) and it's like I've visited a whole lot of dear friends. Because I have.

And now I need some sleep. Tomorrow I will climb out of this hole a little more. And I will remember: my eternal despair never lasts as long as forever.

Friday, 23 April 2010


Am hosting party tomorrow for more than twenty people.

Haven't sorted food.
Haven't cleaned floor.
Haven't found enough candles.
Am panicking.

Have sorted booze. At least non-pregnant non-drivers will have a good time.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

You like coffee, I like tea

I'm not that easily shocked. Really. But there was this thing that shocked me this week. And I want to write about it, because it's, well, it seems to be out there and it's now on my mind, but at the same time I don't want to scare all you readers off. Some I know won't be scared off by this - a particular hippy and my vagina lady, for example (you know who you are), but then others might be.

This blogging world is fickle, as I found out just this week. I acquired my 100th Google follower. I was ecstatic! By the time I wrote a post welcoming this extra special reader, I was back down to 99 and had to delete it. (Shit - just checked - I'm down to 98. Well fuck it then, I can write whatever I want now.) (They were probably both people who don't like swearing. Well, I suppose they were right to leave me then. Fuckfaces.)

Right. Another thing they'll be happy not to read is what I'm about to discuss now. Also, anyone who's eating or squeamish or simply not a perve, please do turn to the next blog you were going to read. I will be back tomorrow, minus filth. (Actually, there might be talk of child birth, in case you're squeamish about that.)

I was reading a Flemish ladies magazine (I swear it wasn't porn or anything), and the topic was gay poop sex parties. Now obviously I knew this existed, but the article had me going from one surprise to another. I just thought they did their business on each other or something. Oh no. That's not dirty enough. The worst bits? Feeding someone crap. Honestly, I could not have thought that one up. I just can't imagine being turned on by that. Also? Pooing in someone's mouth. That just seems wrong. And you couldn't do this with anyone with safe toilet syndrome, let me tell you. Finally - this is embarrassing - I actually was most revulsed at the thought that some men will come to this kind of party very dirty and in smelly clothes. Isn't that funny? That's what shocked me most. Maybe because that's the part I can actually imagine. The rest just makes my imagination (mercifully) dysfunction.

This post of mine is more than a list of strange practices, though. I swear I have a point. Or something resembling one. However much I'm revulsed at the idea, I say hey why not. I suppose I'm just marvelling that there are so many different kinds of people in the world. And that all of us like other things. Some of us like magnolias. Some of us like exercise, others like ice cream. Some even like liquorice. And then some like their sex shitty. And good luck to them. As long as I don't have to deal with any of it personally. Isn't it amazing that one person's heaven is another person's hell? I love it. And I just don't get people who make laws against magnolias, or coffee (which I also find disgusting), or liquorice.

So - I'm not sure how many more readers I've scared off now. Do say goodbye or shout some abuse before you slam the door!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I don't do subtle when it comes to Spring

To me, it's not properly Spring until the Japanese cherry blossoms are here. And they have arrived! I'm in pink floral heaven for at least a week.

The children have both been trained to point them out to me, so I don't have to miss a single one. The two year old particularly melts my heart when she shouts out "Japanse kerselaar!"

I spit on magnolia. Forsythia I consider a poor relation. Japanese cherry, you have my heart.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Hitchhiking for beginners

Continuing the theme "I'm so not a hippy, but deep-down I want to be one" I thought I would drag out the story of the time Babes and I thought it would be fun to hitchhike. Actually, that's unfair. I wanted to hitchhike, Babes told me I was crazy, I called him a chicken... you see where this is going.

It was the summer of '95 and we were InterRailing through Europe. (For the non-Europeans: InterRailing is a right of passage for many European teenagers - you buy a train ticket and in return you get all of Europe for a glorious month.) We were touring Greece and on our way to Epidaurus. I thought it would be clever to save some money by cutting out the bus fee. (No trains to Epidaurus.)

The first car that stopped was driven by a kind man who was willing to take us half-way there from the nearest train station. When the time came to get out, the doors wouldn't open. Mild panic set in, but of course the guy just had children and the car's child lock was on.

The next person to stop had a pickup truck. We could sit in the back. After the previous experience, I was a little twitchy about getting inside a car, so I was ecstatic to be in the open air, wind in our hair, whizzing to our beautiful destination. Until he stopped. In the middle of nowhere. Not a building in sight. When we jumped out of the truck, he came at us creepily, waving a condom, frantically asking something in Greek. We ran rather fast. And that was the last time we ever hitchhiked.

The end.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Birth stories, part I: the birth of Jack

I've had to clench my teeth and get over quite a few things today. I was clever enough to dress my extremely enterprising toddler in white tights, white T-shirt, white jumper, mostly white dress. And then cleverly take her to the playground. And then let her play with coloured chalk outside. I'm smart that way. My idea was to not let all the lovely clothes she has rot in the wardrobe. Live for the moment. That kind of thing. We're back to denim dungarees tomorrow.

Anyway, if I can get over that, I can get over finally sharing the story of Jack's birth. I've been meaning to do a miniseries on the births of my children - a two-part miniseries, not surprisingly - for most of my blogging life, but I've had this mental block. I suppose it's because I feel a bit embarrassed. I would like to be able to say that I had them, floating in the surf of the North Sea, breathing through every contraction like the earth woman I want to be, after which I ate the placenta and breastfed them for three years. Which would be cool. Or at least hardcore.

I had none of that. In fact, I'm a huge chicken, and one of the things that scares me the most is the birth of my children. I'm terrified that something will go wrong, either with them or with me. I'm scared of the pain and panicking. I'm scared of all the unknowns, of the what-ifs, of the could-bes. In theory I love the idea of natural, unassisted childbirth. In practice, I'm the first to ask for medical help. So if you're hugely opposed to the medicalisation of childbirth, you may decide not to read any further. If you do read on, feel free to leave a comment, though. I'm always happy to hear from the other side.

Another reason I've been putting off writing these stories is because it's still so raw to me, I'm not sure if I can write about it prettily. Pretty or not, here I go. Because I've read some of yours. Because they help me. Because that's why I'm in this blogging lark. You know, for the sharing and the oversharing and then some more sharing. And for the funny, of course, but I doubt you'll get much of that just now.

We'd been told to go into the hospital on Monday night. The induction would be started around ten, and the birth would follow sometime on the Tuesday. My gynaecologist at the time was "flexible" about inductions to say the least. She once told me that she'd had both her children three weeks early, because this "fitted better in her schedule." I have always been scared of going overdue. My mother had all four of her children after inductions at 42 weeks. She told me my grandmother had all hers late. My nephew came late as well. All my childhood, I'd been told about the horrors of being over term, including the devastation it would leave on my body. So when my doctor seemed so liberal-minded about this, I asked her if I could have my baby two days past my due date. There has never been any doubt in my mind that my children would and will stay inside 42 weeks and longer, given the choice. I didn't want to hang around and wait for the horror to start. And my doctor was happy to fit me into her schedule.

So there we were, Babes and I, on a Monday evening. The assistant started my labour with a tablet-thingy (yes, I get very eloquent discussing gynaecological procedures) and oh my fucking god it hurt like a motherfucker as soon as that went in. Now this was in my pre-mindfulness days, when hyperventilation and panic attacks were still my firm friends. I demanded an epidural straightaway. There was no way I was going to go through that kind of pain all night long. I can't blame my mother for this decision. She's always been firmly in the tough-it-out camp when it comes to induced births. I still don't know how it's possible, but she did that four times. Anyway - my new best friend the anesthesiologist arrived very quickly and transported me gently to cloud nine. I will love that marvellous man for the rest of my days, just for making that pain stop and not paralysing me in the process.

After the epidural, the night in the labour room was odd. I stayed in labour, but because of the epidural I wasn't in pain. Babes and I actually played some Scrabble. Both of us slept a bit. All things you wouldn't necessarily associate with labour. The epidural at one point worked only on my left side, so I had to lie on my right side to spread it out a bit.

Around lunchtime the next day, we seriously got going. Of course, this being a hospital I wasn't allowed to eat at all. They even didn't really want me to drink much water. Around two o'clock, my own gynaecologist dropped by and told me I was ready to give birth. She just had to do something and she'd be right back to get me wheeled into the delivery room. This is when the trouble started.

She stayed away for a whole two hours. After telling me I was 10 cm dilated and ready to give birth. Soon after two o'clock, a nurse asked me if I needed my epidural renewed. I told her no, as the doctor would be right back and I'd be giving birth. I'd read that I would be able to help more if I was drugged less. When the doctor wasn't back after an hour and I was getting to be in more and more pain, I got a little upset. When she wasn't back by half past three, I was seriously panicking and begging to have my epidural back. I lost the plot ever so slightly there.

In hindsight, I should have taken charge. Asked for a midwife, an assistant, another doctor - even just gone ahead and pushed him out myself. For some reason, I had such faith in that woman that I lay there, waiting for her permission to finally give birth. I'm sure she had some important medical emergency to deal with. I'm sure she wasn't just having lunch or chatting to her colleagues. I bloody hope she wasn't. But she should have let me know she had decided not to come back.

When she finally did get back, I was a ranting, crying, gibbering mess. I was still demanding a top-up for my epidural. I was scared and panicking and just didn't know what to do any more. They wheeled me to the delivery room. And then the perfect cherry on top of this messy pie arrived. Another anesthesiologist. Not the god-like creature I had encountered the night before. More like his smaller, uglier, and no doubt less well endowed, evil counterpart. This piece of work came into the delivery room and started to shout at me that I was a liar. Oh yes, he did. This was the first time I'd ever laid eyes on this man. I was trying to have my baby, after more than two hours of being ready to do so. And he was furious with me, for some idiotic reason. Apparently, somewhere in the Chinese whispers going from me to the the nurse to the midwife to the doctor's assistant, via the temp and the cleaner, he'd got the idea that I'd complained about not getting an epidural after not asking for one in the first place. Or something. I'm still not sure. The astonishing thing is that no one there - not the midwife, not the doctor, not any of the people there - did anything while this guy stood there, lecturing me and shouting "liar" at me. I ended up calming down enough to tell him "Look, even if I did lie, can we please leave this argument be for fifteen minutes so I can give birth first." Thankfully he gave me the top-up and left soon after that.

I could now finally get on with having my son. I pushed and pushed, but apparently I was too tired or drugged by then because the doctor had to use the sucky thing (like I said - eloquent), giving our little newborn boy a bruised sausage-like head. But there he was, all perfect and wonderful, and it's true what they say - you forget everything that went before. (I remembered again later.)

In the end he was born at five o'clock. 52 cm long, 3.600 grams (-ish). He never cried. Just came to lie close to me and was content. And so was I.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Unspeakable things I will only do when pregnant

  1. Drink Dutch 0.0% alcohol beer.
  2. Fart repeatedly without running to the toilet. (Only around the family, poor things.)
  3. Burp all night without removing myself from the room. (Again, poor family.)
  4. Claim I "can't possibly, in my condition" clean up cat vomit/move a piano/call the bank.
  5. Blatantly stick out and rub my belly when asking nearby males to carry heavy things.
  6. Wear a poncho. A green one.
I can't decide which of these is the most disgusting of all: the light beer or the poncho.

Yes, I'm ashamed. No, I won't stop.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The strangest sensation

My back was sore, so I told Jack I would just lie down on the sofa for a minute. As soon as my head hit the arm of the sofa, I was fast asleep. Then the strangest thoughts came to me - in my sleep:
  • What's that noise?
  • It rattles.
  • It sounds like snoring.
  • Is that me?
  • It must be me, it's so close by.
  • I'm snoring.
  • I'm snoring so hard.
  • It's not like I get so many naps.
  • I'm not waking up to stop snoring.
  • That sounds funny.
  • I'm not waking up, though.
An hour later, I woke up and asked Jack if I had snored. He said yes, really hard, for about half an hour. Jack told Marie when we got her out of bed. I swear she could not have heard me. She was on a whole other floor, alseep behind two doors. She shouted at me "You snored hard, like a pig. I heard you. You sounded like a pig."

I wonder if old men who snore are aware they are snoring, too. And if I could have woken myself up, had I been stupidly inclined.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A man's a man for a' that

My favourite Flemish magazine has recently had a couple of articles that really annoyed me. One was a test asking "How masculine are you?" The other was an article entitled "Are men allowed to cry?" Allowed, for fuck's sake. That's enough to drive me up the wall. Their answer seemed to be that "Yes, some grown men do cry." Which absolutely made me drop my club and fall out of my tree. Really? Men sometimes cry? Bloody hell. It's like we've gone back to the 1950s or something.

The test which was meant to determine a man's manliness focused mainly on how much they know about sports (the more the better), how little they do around the house (less is more) and how bad they are at discussing their feelings (bad being good, of course). Now of course I know this test was all in jest, and mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it still bugged me. A lot. Most men I like and respect would have been classed in the "bottom" two categories, which could broadly be described as metrosexuals and nancy-boys. (It was a very subtle test, with subtle answers to match.) I shudder to even imagine being with a man who goes in the "top" two categories, which I would class as Neanderthal and macho man. (I can be subtle right back.)

Then tonight, discussing this with my metrosexual (according to the test) husband, we worked out the problem. The magazine writers were describing what makes a man "masculine," which is a matter of hair, sports and insensitivity. What I respect in a male of mine, though, is that he is "a man," which to me means that he's kind, responsible, a good husband and father, someone you can build on. After that, hairiness or interest in sports don't really register on the scale.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Note to self: must learn from child

Marie is away on a sleepover... in Jack's room.

You have to love the simple things that will make a child happy.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Dutch toilet dilemma: is the sight worth the sniff?

We were at Center Parks in the Netherlands with friends over the weekend. It was glorious, it was fantastic, it was beautiful - I'm completely won over to the idea of holidays with friends-with-kids now. (Hi, K.C., let's do that again sometime.) However, that's not what I was going to write about today, so let's quickly get to the bottom of the matter at hand.

The Dutch have very special toilets: Dutch toilets have a shelf. A shit-shelf. For those not intimately acquainted with this phenomenon, an illustration:

(Actual holiday cottage's privy.)

The beauty and genius of this invention cannot be overstated. After pressing a particularly good turd, one is left with ample opportunity to examine one's product in glorious technicolour detail. Even when (or especially when) said product could be labelled inferior, this process can be most enlightening.

You have to hand it to the Dutch. For a nation which can get it so wrong in so many respects (their food, their beer, their popular music - I could go on), they get it so right in this one. This national obsession with feces somehow endears them to me.

I've always said that if we ever build our own house, I want my own Dutch toilet. I am sufficiently anally focused to have an endless interest in my every daily excretion, so I truly believed such a toilet would enhance my life considerably.

Now... I'm not so sure. The glorious technicolour detail is without a doubt impressive, exhilarating and most informative. Which sentient being in their right mind would not, post-poop, get up to admire one's own doodie if offered it literally on a platter? The pleasure is pure and sweet. The smell, however... not so much. I now see the value of instantly immersing one's kaka in water, sealing all odours subaquatically and leaving the pooper fragrantly free to finish reading one's magazine article in pongless peace.

Of course, a compromise might be attempted. An alternative shelved toilet could be constructed, with more of a bowl where the shelf is now. The bowl should be filled with enough water to completely immerse one's stool, while still leaving it fully free for visual inspection. This may be hard to engineer, a watery bowl being by its very nature a very slippery proposition. The jobbie may just slide straight out of such a bowl and down the drain if too forcefully excreted. Perhaps a system of valves would be needed. I digress - this is a problem best left to the better water closet engineer. I am most probably also missing the point entirely: it may very well be that the olfactory component is a crucial element in the Dutch fecal inspection process. A good sniff probably tells you at least as much as an analysis of colour, texture or girth.

Now that I'm back at home and reunited with my boring old Belgian commode, I'm not sure what to think any more. While my daily evacuation was surely less offensive to the world at large, I very much missed the subsequent analysis I had got used to. I am left wondering about the quality of my crap, while yesterday I had certainty. I miss ogling my waste, but I don't miss smelling it.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The swimsuit edition

The holidays pause for no pregnant woman, so on with the show we went today - bathing suit shopping. (We're going away to Center Parks with friends for a few days from tomorrow.) I needed suits for Marie, myself, and Babes. Babes being at work, it was just me and the kids. HAHAHA!

In the changing rooms, Marie was alternating between singing at the top of her voice and screaming to be let out of the pram. Jack sat on the floor and commented on all the bits of my body that didn't look right to him - while I was trying on pregnancy swimsuits, the devil's favourite garment.
  • "Mama, let me count all those birth marks on your back. One, two, three - NO! Don't put your clothes back on!"
  • "Ewww! Your armpits! The hair is so long!" (Deforestation needed, apparently.)
  • The rest I've blocked from my memory. (Really, it was getting too embarrassing. All the other changing rooms got very quiet. Luckily I managed to shut him up - eventually.)
I'm so looking forward to the swimming pool. At least my pregnancy cellulite will keep me warm.

Afterwards, we went for therapeutic pancakes with ice cream and chocolate sauce, but as a drink I had only water. That should sort those thighs by tomorrow.

*** I want to clarify - I'm really enjoying the holidays. The cringeworthy snapshots just make for better blog fodder. ***

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Breasts, penises, tea

These holidays - they are lovely. But they sure exhaustify this mother. So I offer you this impression of the day:
  • Marie has discovered my breasts. She is jealous of them, she stares at them, she paws them. I love it.
  • We went to see a cycle race today. The wonders of producing offspring with a penis. These things last all day! (Cycle races, I mean - not penises.)
  • All the holiday delights meant I could only go to the shops while the kids were having their evening meal. When I got back, I was so tired and hungry I actually cried until Babes brought me tea and food.
Now I must go and collapse into bed again, because my darling children have not managed their usual holiday routine of sleeping in yet. Bastards!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Mamma Mia

The new smash hit at Casa de Mwa is the movie Mamma Mia. We had our very first movie night on Sunday, and ever since it's been on repeat. What better question to ponder for a 2 and 5 year old than a paternity question, right? Also, I'd been meaning to tell them about donkey testicles. I particularly love exclamations like "Look, mama, she's pretending that's a penis!"

With all that goes on in that movie, it bugs me that it's so bloody subtle about the Colin Firth character finding his gay lover. The first time, I missed it until right at the end of the movie. I cannot get used to that about Hollywood. Violence is okay, but sex isn't, and love is great if it's between a man and a woman, but otherwise it's either hilarious or for adults only. Hardly an original observation - I know - but it's shocking me all over again today.

Now I think I will risk my life by switching off the movie and taking them to the children's farm. (That sounds like I'm going to leave them at a farm which breeds and sells children. Ha!) The sun is shining, the blossoms are bursting, the birds are calling us out. We can't spend the whole holidays cooped up in here with the curtains drawn watching Abba songs...

Friday, 2 April 2010

A new strategy

I tried the "We should be friends" line again today. I got laughed at. C'est la vie. As a result, I've decided to lower my standards. Questionable personal hygiene, bad taste in shoes and cruelty to children are no longer considered major flaws.

Neonazis and fans of Celine Dion still need not apply.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The qualities I was trying to project were "desperation" and "loser"

Sitting in the playcafe, I see a woman come in with her friend. She's never been, and asks me for some general information. She's happy with her new discovery, determined to come back. She seems lovely. She has a friend with two small children, so she's obviously not allergic to mothers. Then she mentions, casually, that she has three sons (7,4,2-ish). She WILL be my new best friend. It has been decreed.

The conditions are perfect: I have on my pretty black witches dress with the black bows. Lovely black boots. My hair is wild, yet newly washed so not objectionable. I'm reading a thinking woman's newspaper, but the slightly more lefty one rather than the deathly dull one. I have also managed not to spill any of my lunch onto myself. Neither have the children. Marie did sneeze on me violently, but I think I got all the snot with a tissue before it set. I cannot fail!

But - she has her friend there, so I'm hesitant to hijack the conversation. Also, we nearly have to go. I try anyway. When friend goes to pee, I marvel at her baby and ask my new best friend about the baby's age. (Boring, I know, but at least I'm trying.) The conversation is awkward. I sense she's not entirely averse to my overtures, though, so I try once more when Marie goes to admire the baby. Then friend comes back, so I am forced to retreat.

I sit at my table, plotting to make her fall for me. Tying her up so she can't get away while I list my endearing qualities is probably not the way to go. I'm short on cash, so bribery is not an option. Coming straight out and saying "We should be friends" is just so damned un-Flemish. (I have tried this too often. Successes so far: 1. On an American.) So aloofness and feigned indifference it is.

We have to go now. I make one more mad dash for it, desperately telling her "I might see you around then." Way to go, Mwa. That will haul her in.