Month 1 Month 2 : Smooth Move Month 3

"So she's just... just gums and tongues then?" -inquisitive 3 year old at the doctor's office.
Big news this month: Kevin and Aimee move to Ireland! Belfast, to be exact, which is technically Northern Ireland, which is worth clarifying because some of the people here get a bit tetchy about it, and is also part of the UK, which is worth mentioning in case you're looking to purchase tickets to visit us and, try as you might, you never find a "Belfast, Ireland" in the list of destination airports.

We didn't have to worry about this, because we just took the ferry over from Scotland. Scotland is also part of the UK, but it is a separate country, just like Northern Ireland. And Wales. But chances are, you won't be going to Wales. Although I hear it's very nice. Actually I haven't heard that specifically, it's just something you say so you don't lose all your Welsh website visitors. Anyhoo...

Highlights from January 2007...
2 After a wet London Christmas with her first grandchild, Gramma packs her bags and heads back home to Canada. She's sad to leave, but let's be honest: Charlie still isn't much more than a lump, and there isn't much you can do with her except feeding and the changing and the crying and the carrying, with none of the giggling and the smiling and the winking and the babbling. It'll be quite the shock when she returns in a few months time, and Charlie's already doing Euclidean geometry and is up to the Gs in the dictionary (just in time to learn the word "Gramma").
4 Today we got the van. What van? Why, the van that we're going to pack our meager belongings into, and drive up to Belfast for the next year of our lives. Ohhh, THAT van. I mean, sheesh, as if a baby isn't enough of a life change, we need to mix it up with a move to another country? Meh, why not.

One thing I will say, this is quite possibly the easiest move we've ever done... because we can drive to our next house. Every other time we've moved house, we've been limited by the airlines on how much stuff we can take with us. Each subsequent home has contained 64kg of whatever was in the previous one, and the rest is bought to suit the new place (whatever we had before the flight in excess of 64kg was either sold, donated, or packed under the stairs at Gramma's house... the only storage fee being that we have to hear about our Rollerblades at least once a phonecall).

On the other hand, it's quite possibly the hardest move my back has ever done. There was a lot more than 64kg in that house, and it was up to me to carry it all out to the van (Aimee seemed to think that since she gave birth that she was exempt from heavy lifting. What a wuss). I'll tell you, we're getting movers on the other end (so long as we don't need that money to pay the Parking Authority).

Aimee's note: While I may have been exempt from heavy lifting, I was barely exempt from medium lifting and cleaning, which I am convinced has delayed my birth healing time by several weeks. AND I was the one who hired the movers so that Kevin wouldn't completely kill his back and continue to talk about how he's 'getting old'. Kevin was reluctant to spend the money on them, but I insisted. So THERE.
5 Many people have asked us: "How did you do the move to Northern Ireland with such a wee baby?" Seems daunting, doesn't it? But actually, it was no problem at all. Reason #1: Charlie's never been in a car before, but if there's one thing that can get her to sleep, it's the gentle motion of being in her stroller. The van, as it turned out, was one big stroller for her. Out like a light (mind you, that night at the B&B she was wiiiiide awake). Reason #2: To the English, 8 hours is an impossibly long drive, long enough to stop at a hotel halfway. To the Northern Irish, 8 hours will get you across their country and back three times. To a Canadian, 8 hours is like nipping out for some milk. And reason #3: As I said earlier, Charlie isn't much more than a lump at the moment. She doesn't need to be entertained or stimulated, just fed and rested. Imagine an 8 hour drive with a 6 month old, or a 2 year old? One month is a piece of cake.
6 Things that are inconvenient today:
1) My van is big. It is enormous. I could fit two, possibly three Irish families, and their vehicles, inside my van. In contrast, Belfast roads are very small, and many residential areas end in cul-de-sacs, which means the only ways back out are reversing, a 23-point turn, or tearing up the yard of some poor old lady's yard who's garden has more gnomes than flowers.
2) Belfast roads have been built into an ingenius one-way system (no, I didn't spell ingenius wrong - I actually mean "ingenius" as in "the opposite of genius") which means that if you miss your turn-off, you can never ever find it again without completely leaving the city and starting again.
3) Belfast closes at noon on Saturday (today is Saturday, and it is noon), and doesn't open again until Monday, which gives us two days to do nothing until the real estate agents open up on Monday, coincidentally on the day I start work and cannot drive my monstrous van around.
4) We had three choice apartments picked out before we left London, and three appointments to view them on Saturday afternoon. During yesterday's drive up, we received three phonecalls. All three apartments were snapped up before we even reached Scotland. So we're starting from scratch.
5) And finally, why the hell would anyone want to drive a manual? What good is a stickshift compared to an automatic? All the gears do is give you one more thing to think about while you drive, and make you take your hands off the wheel all day long. I've asked people why a manual is good, and the best they can come up with is that "it gives you more control". It does not, unless by "more control" you mean you're now able to micro-manage your car better. They could also open up a panel in the floor so you could kick the wheels with your feet to make them turn, that would also give you more control. But that's not any kind of control I think I need. When I get in an automatic, I say "okay car, go forward at the speed I desire. I don't honestly care how you do it, as long as I'm eventually travelling at my desired speed"... and the automatic car does it. How much more control should I need?

If anyone's got an honestly convincing reason why a manual is better than a automatic, email me and I'll post your answer here. And not just an "it's good for speeding away from traffic lights" reason, because that's not something that I need to do, or "it's better for climbing hills", because it isn't. I want "A manual is in most respects better than an automatic because..." argument. Convince me.
7 One month old! To celebrate, we went to the poshest restaurant we could find that was open on a Sunday night: Pizza Express. Charlie made friends with all the waitresses, and most of the patrons. it was like the whole city was out to celebrate her birthday. Okay, it wasn't exactly like that, anymore than the whole city came out to celebrate my 361-month birthday when we had Chinese in the hotel yesterday. Still nice though. They love babies here.
8 Kevin: So today's the first day at my new job. I drive my big ol' white van containing everything I own out to my new office. I say "out to" because it's located on the docklands about 200m from where the Titanic was built, to which I comment that it's ironic that a city would name its new business development "The Titanic Quarter" after mankind's greatest hubris, to which my boss retorts "It was fine when it left the shop." For the record, this wasn't our first exchange. The first exchange was something like "I'd love to show you around but there's a shedload of stuff I have to draw, and if you wouldn't mind can you finish these storyboards? I'll introduce you to your team later." Now that's an induction, likely so smooth because of the absence of an HR department.

Aimee: Alone with charlie, no car, still finds an apartment by 11am. How's that?
10 Holy frickin' frack am I ever glad to be out of that hotel. It was almost as depressing as the place we stayed in when we first moved to London two years ago. Maybe that's our trick: when we first move to a new city, we book a week in the worst location possible to force us to find a good flat immediately. It's worked so far.
11 I'm sitting here in our totally empty new flat with all of our belongings piled into the spare room with absolutely no idea how to begin. I've got a baby that literally alternates between sleeping on me or eating on me or playing with me and all I can think of is that I would really like to be able to at least unpack the dishes before the end of the day. Having two people take care of a baby is SO much better than just one. With two, one person is can be productive at least half of the time. With just me, I'm going to have to develop some techniques for taking care of the baby at the same time as doing tasks. If I don't, I'm going to drive myself insane looking at unpacked boxes.
12 It's Friday, the first Friday at my new job. For those of you who don't know what I do, I'm the Art Director for an animation studio, creating a series of 5-minute cartoons for 4 to 7 year olds. Think Postman Pat, but based around a talking lifeboat on the Norht Irish Sea, and a heck of a lot more fast-paced and cheeky. It's my first time working with a team of animators and artists, and they chucked me straight into the deep end. Where one usually expects some sort of a handover when they enter a job, the handover here was more of a "here ya go!" But you know, scary as it was, it was invigorating. There's something to be said about baptism by fire... if you make it out the other end alive, you've learned a heck of a lot more in a shorter time than if you'd been handheld the whole way through.
Anyway, love my new job. Only one week in, and I can tell you conclusively that it's the best job I've ever had. I'll let you know when my show will be coming to a telly near you.
14 After weeks of just staring out of windows and acting like a lump of sugar, Charlie has started playing with her toys! It's incredible to see her interacting with them, even if it is just random bats with her hands and following them with her eyes. Her favourite toy is her Fisher Price cat that Auntie Inga gave her for Christmas. We call him the Botox Kitty because of the mild expression that's always on his face.
18 Men, listen up. Never, ever, ever spend ten minutes watching a mother breastfeed in public and then walk up to her and tell her that her baby is a 'good eater'. I don't care how 'new age' or 'modern' you are. You DO NOT do that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that no man on his own should ever speak to a breastfeeding woman unless he already is on a first name basis with her. Otherwise, this is just creepy to the extreme. I'll bet you can guess what happened to me today.
24 So this guy walks up to me as I'm walking down my street with Charlie and says "'scuse me ma'am, you might not want to take the wee one down that there way. There's a nail bomb in that car right there." The car to which he is referring is about a 100 feet in front of me, and he is cleverly heading the other direction himself.

Being somewhat experienced in matters like this, I very quickly turned my pram around and headed away from my house and the nail bomb. My first thought is "Oh, COME ON." How many times does a girl have to deal with terrorists before she just starts getting a little bit fed up with them? My second thought was "Was that guy the bomber?" My third thought was "Would he have warned me if I didn't have Charlie?" My fourth thought was "Cool, the police have one of those robot bomb thingies." My fifth thought was "Perhaps I'll just move back a bit further."

As it turned out, both that nail bomb and another one that had been put in the town centre that day turned out to be hoaxes meant to frighten, not kill. And in case you're wondering, I never gave the police a description of the man, because the best I can do is to describe him as "very Irish-looking." While Kevin may comprehend that description, the police would find it a bit vague and perhaps unhelpful.
28 It's incredible how my days seem to fall into three categories:

Perfect: I am the ultimate mummy. The nappies are changed promptly, the baby is happy, I've managed to eat at least one meal, and I'm enjoying playing and being goofy with Charlie.
Chaos: No matter what I do, everything just seems off. Charlie is grumpy and I can't figure out how to please her, it's suddenly three o'clock and I haven't eaten yet, and I'm so frazzled I'm breaking out in a cold sweat.
Bored: My brain is numb. I spend the day staring into space while feeding Charlie, then practically fall asleep while playing with her, and constantly watch the clock for six o'clock when Kevin gets home.

Luckily, the perfect days seem to always outnumber the others.
31 There's so much in the media today about postpartum depression and how everyone needs to be sensitive to new mothers and support them. All well and good, but it seems that these sensitivities have not reached the medical profession, which has apparently taken an oath of truth before feelings. Here's how my postnatal exam went today:

BattleAxe Matron Doctor: Ooooo. Hi baby, is your mom holding you the wrong way? That will surely hurt your legs. Crying because you're hungry, are you?
Aimee: Actually I just fed her. She's tired.
BMD: How's she sleeping?
A: She's still waking up a few times a night. We're trying to get her moved from our bed to her moses basket.
BMD: Oooooo. That's horrible - you really shouldn't have her in your bed, you know. Are you aware of the dangers?
A: Yes, which is why we're making the switchover.
BMD: Oooookay. Let's have a look at you. You know you need to lose 10 kilos, right?
A: I just gave birth 6 weeks ago and I'm down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm happy with that so far.
BMD: Well, I would really recommend that you start thinking about losing more.
A: All right.
BMD: Now, everything looks fine with your stiches, but, wow, you've got a lot of stretch marks....
A: Sigh.

I'm not suffering from depression, but if I was that way inclined, I think this visit would have pushed me over the edge.

Beware! The Benevolent Bubble Baby of Belfast beckons! Bwahahahaha!
(Charlie Tivoli, 4 weeks old, in her first bathtub).

Let's talk about...BREASTS

Thank heavens for breastfeeding. Sure, it can be boring, physically draining and time consuming.... but let's face it. As a new parent, it's the only activity that completely absorbs the attention of a newborn for longer than 10 minutes and lets you read (or have a cuppa or just stare into space) without constantly thinking that the baby is about to wake up/begin to get frustrated/cry. It's also the only thing guaranteed to fix even the craziest of cries. Fantastic.

Did you know?

...breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. The more you feed, the more milk you make!

...looking at a picture of your baby will help you express more milk!

...breastfeeding isn't just good for your baby. It decreases your chance of breast cancer later in life!

Q. What did you feed your baby?
     Breast milk
     Coffee and nicorette gum

You'll get the results when we get some extra time.

Charlie's Book of the Month

The Complete Adventures of Curious George
By Margaret and H.A. Rey
Now, come on. Who doesn't love Curious George? The books are so sweet and innocent, and George tries so hard, and sometimes he gets into a spot of trouble, but what do you expect? He's only a cute little monkey.

The thing I've found funniest about reading these for the first time since I was a kid is how unstructured the plot is. It's doesn't have a rising action, a climax and a denouement... it's more like a 5 year old telling you what he did today: "And then I fell off my bike, and I saw an ice cream man, and he gave me a free ice cream, and I dropped it in the sandbox 'cause I was in the park, and we saw a turtle! And another man was washing windows! And you know what? My birthday is next week!" Just here there and everywhere. But that doesn't make the stories any less cute. They just drag on a bit sometimes. Like a 5 year old.

In the meantime, we're up to The Wide Window, Book The Third of Lemony Snicket, the one about Aunt Josephine. When we finish this one, we're onto new territory not covered by the movie. Charlie's so excited.

Charlie's Favourite Tunes

Charlie's definitely got some musical likes and dislikes already. There are some albums you can put on that will guarantee soothing calm within three songs. Here's her top 10:

1. Macy Gray, first album
Actually, this one gets special mention. The others in this list she merely "likes", but if she's wailing and screaming we can put on Macy Gray, and she's calm before Macy sings the first chorus, sometimes even the first line. Thanks Macy!

2. Jack Johnson
3. St. Germain
4. Jack Soul
5. Diana Krall
6. Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon
7. Alanis Morissette, Under Rug Swept
8. Colin James, Big Band 2
9. Damien Rice
10. Some CD we got free with the newspaper one Sunday, which doesn't exactly help you if you were going to rush out and buy it.


Silly song of the month

Who's Got Monkey Feet?
By Aimee Beimers

Who's got monkey feet?
Who's got monkey feet?
Who's got monkey feet?
...pause before chorus...
Charlie Tivoli's got monkey feet!

Who's got monkey knees?
Who's got monkey knees?
Who's got monkey knees?
...pause with big wide grin...
Charlie Tivoli's got monkey knees!

(Repeat with other body parts. If your baby has a different name, you may wish to change the chorus also)

What the...?

The column that tries to explain the unexplainable.

SITUATION: Aimee's tendency to be near, yet unharmed by, terrorist attacks.

ANALYSIS: Aimee is obviously straddling the fine line between extremely lucky and extremely unlucky. There is no real explanation for this, but one day the CIA, MI5 and the Home Office will all compare notes, and there'll be one of those movie moments where they compare three photos from three different terrorist events, and THE SAME GIRL is there... and there... and look, there! All units! Be on the lookout for a girl, early thirties, dark hair, probably a paper cup of takeaway coffee in her hand. Project codename: Dumb Luck.

STATUS: Remains unexplained. However, though unproven, it would be a safe idea to be close to Aimee at all times. And if you happen to spot Aimee in an airport, but she's not on the same plane, I suggest you switch your flight to another day.

Irish English

Creche: (rhymes with John Tesh)
A babysitting service within a church, shopping mall, gym or other location where you can leave your child with qualified professionals and get on with things for a while.

USED IN A SENTENCE: I strongly suspect that many mothers who leave their babies in a gym creche are really just having a quiet coffee in the cafe.

baby's first
baby's first
baby's first
comfy couch
caught in mid sneeze
back to the sink at bathtime

We've got mail...

Happy New Year to the happy new family! I hope that you all find health and happiness in 2007.
- Miia, Nick and Anthony
Toronto, ON

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Good luck with the move & please unpack the Charlie box first.... ;)
Miss you guys...
- Bruce
Fort Lauderdale, FLA

Ahh! That's made my morning!!! I like the photo next to the House of Commons - she looks like a future leader. And whoever put her in a box deserves a smack across the chops - I'm guessing it was Kevin.
- Anna
London, UK

I am thinking about you. I actually envy you three..... another adventure.........and you do adventures so well. Everyone here is loving the pictures of Charlie and of course they think she is absolutely beautiful. On that we are all in agreement.
- Gramma
Thunder Bay, ON

Hello Kevin, Aimee and Charlie:
Hello my baby, hello my darling, hello get the picture! Hello newest memeber of the Beimers family. I hope your arrivial in to this beautiful world was pleasant! I just wanted you to know that you have been born to the best parents a gal could have. Your dad is witty and intelligent and you mumma is a intellectual woman of all means. They both have a lot to pass along to you so be prepared! You are bound to be blessed from both ends. They make great friends and will be excellent parents I am sure.
How are you new mum? Do you feel okay? I am so happy for you I am lost for words. I have never really been a girl of many words anyway. CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! I hope you are doing well...and remember Kevin is there to help so rest while you can the first three months can be a doozy! I am sure you are going to do great!
And how is the new father? What will the official title be? Dad... Pa.... Daddykins... Dada.... Daddy... Father...whatever suits your fancy! I am happy for the three of you. Take care of your gals. And keep the pictures coming! Talk to you later! Take care! OXOXO
- Crystal
Dryden, ON

Thanks for the baby pics. She's absolutely gorgeous - I especially love the bubble one. That'll be a good one to show the future boyfriends.
- Helen
London, UK

Hello Charlie: I just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed all the pictures your Ma and Pa have sent to my family and I, but I am beginning to wonder what ever happed to you! The last pictures we have are from you in London…but now my Mumma tells me you have moved to Belfast, Ireland. How are things in Ireland? Have you found a new house yet? Are your Ma and Pa doing well? Are you behaving well for them? It is always nice to keep them on their toes you know…take it from me and ol’ pro…it will keep them young! I just wanted to say hello, but if you have time please send some more pictures. You are a pretty lil’ lady! Hope to talk to you again soon, take care!
Love Always, Your friend from across the ocean,
- Nathan
Dryden, ON

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Interested in Kevin and Aimee's other adventures? Of course you are!
Lose a month out of your life reading the Roadtrip or the Bikeabout. They're rather funny.

© 2007 Kevin & Aimee & Charlie Beimers.
Bathed in the Cup of Impermanence.