Monday, 7 June 2010

I'm the king of the day

My birthday.  One year older on paper and the paper is getting older by the minute. Thankfully I still look fantastic and feel young (ish).  L'Oreal for men can do wonders.  I really can't believe that so many years have gone by, but I guess time flies when you are having fun.  Funnily enough, I haven't met the midlife crisis yet and I'm not too sure what to look out for either.

Our oldest daughter, who's now 6 years old, was so excited that my birthday had finally arrived. She started to give me clues the day before as to what I was getting - without telling me what it was of course.  Over my left shoulder, I could sense my wife trying to use the Jedi mind trick to persuade our daughter not to reveal anything, but she failed miserably.  My daughter either completely ignored the gestures or didn't fall for the feeble mind trick.  By the time the kids had gone to bed, I had some ideas as to what I might expect to see underneath the wrapping paper;
  • A goodie bag from a party my daughter was at two days earlier
  • Something to do with a light saber
  • An outdoor toy on a string
  • A tissue with dried nostril fluids
  • Several kisses and hugs from all members of my hobbit family
... and of course the mandatory birthday song singing as a wake-up call.  All in all, I was in for a heck of a surprise and birthday celebration.

As usual, I was off to bed around 21.30 (9.30pm), to catch a bit of shut-eye before the big day.  I'm on the early feeding shift, so I need my beauty sleep.  Well, beauty sleep is wasted on me, as I can't get any prettier. I'm not 20 anymore and I need at least 6 hours sleep.  To my absolute surprise and delight, my 2 month old daughter, who has been waking up at 4am every morning, decided to wake up at 6am this morning. It was fantastic.  She allowed me to sleep in.  What a little star.  We went down stairs, where she had her bottle and I had mine, all while watching the first series of CSI Las Vegas.

Shortly before 7am, I was summoned by my daughter to come back to my bed, so they could wake me up singing, and give me my presents.  I went upstairs and pretended to sleep while the family prepared the birthday morning ritual.  My daughter is the only person who can actually hold a note and sing. She was singing Happy Birthday in three languages; English, Spanish and Irish - amazing or what?  Both my wife and I are strong contenders for the X-factor outtakes, so the missus was merely humming something that sounded like the theme song from "Sound of Music"(out of tune), and gave me a big kiss.  Our son completely disengaged after the first few words of the song and handed me the remote for the TV.  I love these little rituals that we have. They make you realise that you have a loving and caring family.

Anyway, that day I was the king, the president, the dictator and the ruler of mi casa, all rolled up into one person.  Heck, that's a deal we have all agreed to in my little family.  Whoever has a birthday can decide everything ... well, sort of.  I was delighted that it was finally my day to decide what to do, eat and watch.

Hang on, who am I kidding?

I'm the lowest step on the family ladder.  Even my 2 month old daughter decides more than I do.  Let me be clear, that is not necessarily a bad thing.  I'm more than delighted to serve my family, as long as I get a bit of loving in return, which I do.  Besides, I can still pretend to be king, in my mind.  Nothing wrong ever came of developing a fantasy and playing.  That was why I went off to play with Lego to build my own kingdom.

Later in the day the in/out-laws stopped by to see us, mainly to see the kids of course. We had a lovely birthday chocolate cake (with cream and strawberries in the middle) that my wife had made.  Shortly after the cake had been eradicated (no traces left), it was decided that we watch Avatar - all while I did the dishes and started to prepare dinner.

I had a nice and relaxed day.  I had the day off work. We were stuck inside due to torrential rain.  I got some nice presents, especially the three day old goodie back from my daughter and her drawing saying "I luv yuo dad".

Just because you are one year older doesn't mean that you are wiser - at least not in my case.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Married to be divorced...

...just to get our newborn registered!  That's exactly what we almost had to do.

As you might have read in some earlier blogs, my beautiful wife gave birth to an almost as beautiful daughter five weeks ago. When that happens you need to get the child registered.  That's fairly standard across the World. It will allow you to apply for a passport - obviously and it also helps if you want to get child benefit.

I still think it is silly to give kids below the age of four their own passport.  In all honesty, a baby's face changes a lot in the first 12 months alone. So, the child/baby could get arrested or could be denied entry.  Even my face as an adult changes from time to time. That's mainly because I'm getting a little more roundfaced as I'm getting older.  Sometimes my face changes as well when I attempt to grow facial hair, although I still cannot grow a full beard.  My late dad always made fun of this, and he probably still does.

One morning, after having dropped off the two eldest kids at their schools, the rest of the von Trap family journeyed into the local council office to get our newest member registered.  My wife was, as always, well prepared and had all the usual certificates copied and folded neatly in an envelope.  That should make the process quicker - we thought.  We handed the envelope to the civil servant sitting behind the greasy class partition and she "quickly" started the process.  Just as we were waiting for the document to be stamped and processed, the civil servant said that our wedding certificate was no longer valid. WTF!  I calmly explained to the numbskull that we had used the same certificate to register our two other kids, where to she said "well, that was before January 1 2007, right?" Church certificates are no longer valid, we were told. And, this comes from a country that has been manipulated and run by the Catholic church for centuries!  The only option, she said, was to get a civil marriage certificate or the wedding certificate legalised by the government/country we were married in.  That just made it so much easier ... NOT!

When we came home, I contacted my embassy, only to discover that this rule had indeed been agreed by most European countries to prevent fraud and human trafficking.

I then contacted the foreign affairs office in Denmark and discovered that I had to get our wedding certificate renewed, as they only accept certificates that are less than 4 months old.  FFS, this just got worse.

At this point, we seriously considered getting married in city hall, in Ireland, in our swim wear, (I in my speedos and my wife in her bikini) just to get this famous certificate.  Just one minor problem...we had to get divorced to get married.  And, in order to get a new certificate, I had to go to a Danish church, IN Denmark.

For personal reasons, I had to go to Denmark, so I brought the famous wedding certificate with me in order to get it upgraded.  My path would cross another civil servant again - damn it - this time disguised as a "friendly" clerk in the church office.  She turned out to be just as helpful as a kitchen sifter emptying a bucket full of water.

She could not find our certificate on the computer, despite it being the church where we got married. She then said my wife would have to come to Denmark too to get registered as a resident.  Interesting!  Do they suggest that we leave our newborn alone in Dublin? Remember, you can't travel without a passport, and to get a passport you need a birth certificate... Alright,  I've always tried to be diplomatic and understanding, but in this case I had to tell the lady a few truths about the IT systems they were using and her inability to provide alternative solutions.  These were truths the church haven't heard since the dark ages (the language of mordor), letting my dark side shine through.  Obviously, it didn't help at all and I was no further in my quest to get our daughter registered.

My dear mum heard my heartfelt story and stepped in to help her son.  Within 40 minutes, she had secured me a new wedding certificate and processed the payment to get the document legalised.  Now we just had to get the certificate legalised by the Danish Foreign Office, and pay to have this done of course ... I even had to pay for the postage stamp to send the certificate back to me!

Within 7 working days, the "new" certificate arrived.  It looked exactly like the one I sent them, with the only difference that it now had a small A5 sized stamp on the back.  Hopefully the Irish civil servants accept this one.  Something tells me that they will be looking for something else, e.g. video footage of the wedding, letter from priest, blessing for local parish priest - anything to delay the process further.

We can only keep our fingers crossed, hoping everything is in order, so we can get our daughter registered and get her a passport.  We are relying on civil servants.. Lord have mercy on us.

... and they didn't accept the new marriage certificate!
The legalized and stamped certificate arrived as promised. We travelled far distances across town to get our daughter registered.  Yes, back to the house of evil civil servants and their medieval processes.

My wife joined the queue and were soon face-to-face with a glazed looking male.  He starred at the newly stamped certificate, with the Danish seal on it, and passed it back ."No good!".  "It doesn't state it's a CIVIL Marriage certificate." he said. My diplomatic wife attempted for a long time to remind the civil supervisor muppet that we had done EXACTLY what they asked us to do. She also suggested that he should contact the Danish embassy since they were not accepting the Danish Foreign Affairs office stamp.  We should have known that he wasn't going to be of any help, so I contacted the Danish embassy instead, hoping they would be able to assist.

BTW, we did ask the question if we could re-marry to get this process completed, whereto the civil drone said we would be breaking the law! We would have to get divorced first to remarry. However, we could also be charged for tax fraud since we have been registered as married for years which means we have been taxed as a married couple... But, he wasn't following the legal EU directive himself!

So, I persuaded the assistant ambassador to write a letter to the Uber-clone, stating that our wedding certificate in fact was a legal civil document.  We just received that letter and now we just have to see if that letter is good enough as well.  All these obstacles just to get our daughter registered!

My wife went to the registration office, again, walked up to the hatch and spoke to the same "helpful" civil servant again.  She showed him the legal wedding certificate (again), the birth confirmation form from the hospital (again) and the newly acquired letter from the embassy.  Drumroll please.

Believe it or not, we finally managed to get her registered.  3rd time lucky as they say.  Now, off to the passport office. Let's hope they are not on strike!

There and back again, by misses hobbit

Saturday, 15 May 2010


There's no denying it, I’m a loving and caring husband, and you should know it from reading all my previous blogs.  This notion of men not helping out in the house is nothing more than a myth - at least in our household.  My hands are so well cared for ever since I started to use the Fairy dish-wash soap (the one with built-in moisturizer that pampers your hands and leaves your dishes feeling squeaky clean).  Basically, I'm an all-in-one wonder dad - if you ask me of course.
- click here for more information
Being an at-home-working-dad has given me an insight into the daily tasks required to keep the household going, on top of the traditional duties such as cleaning and cooking and more importantly ALL the kids’ daily rituals and after school activities.  I have no idea how my wife manages or has the energy to go from activity to activity. She has done so for several years now.  On top of that, she's breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, with the exception of when I wake up early (4-5am) to feed the baby.

Despite having two kids already, it’s still not easy to adapt to having a new addition in the family.  So to show my support, I took a few days off work, and worked from home a few days too, to look after the other two hobbits as much as possible.  Mind you, this in itself is a full-time job, because the missus is often stuck in a breastfeeding trance, so most of the day-to-day duties fall upon me too - I know, you feel sorry for me.  I've started to sing "go down Moses...let my people go" and "jump down pick 'o bale of cotton", which my wife doesn't find amusing. I just find it natural to sing these songs.  A man can only take so many strokes of the whip (unless he's into that stuff).

So, for the past 4 weeks, my involvement in the daily routines increased from bringing our daughter to school, to also bringing our son to school.  His school is a 30 minute drive from our house, on the motorway, so it is a fair distance. He goes there 3 times a week and 3 hours per day.  It is too far to go back, so I spent the time in the lovely Malahide village - home of the notorious yummy mummy gang, who have their headquarters in the local Starbucks.  I was sitting there one Wednesday trying to work while our son was in school, when the place was suddenly invaded by buggies, screaming kids and lactating women. Women and kids were all wearing the latest gear, and most of it could pay for our car.

To make the situation more complex and perhaps disturbing was that staff in Starbucks knew them all and started to prepare the various variations of coffee; skinny slim decaf columbian, hot coco made with soy milk and rye scones.  What ever happened to a normal cup of Joe?

My work laptop was being squirted with juice, crumbs, coffee, breast milk and baby pooh.  Not sure I could handle much more of this.  But, just as quickly as they had emerged from their gold plated SUV's, just as quickly did they vanish.

Later in the week, while dropping off our son at school, my daughter and I were waiting in the car for a few minutes, letting the traffic in the cul de sac calm down.  Suddenly, one of these bling-bling SUVs pulled up and parked in the middle of the street. Out jumped a yummy mummy dressed to kill in DKNY, Armani and D&G sun glasses.  She was dropping off her son to school that he was not in the slightest interested in going. He grabbed the nearest pole to resist entering the school. The mother started pulling his legs causing him into a vertical position.  She then attempted to trick him and picked him up to hug him,  while one of the teachers took the kid from behind trying to lift him into school.  As she gently pulled the kid away from the mother, he desperately clung on to his mum's DKNY shirt. All of a sudden the mum's shirt ripped open and revealed her right boob!  The mother "calmly" buttoned her shirt, fixed her sunglasses and pretended as if nothing had happened.  I quickly rolled up the window trying to suppress my laughter, but then my daughter and I looked at each other and we both burst out in hysterical laughter.

Other man duties during my stint off included bringing our daughter to horseback riding, theatre school and gym - all on different days and far from home of course.  It takes almost two hours each event, so I spend time working on my blog or playing with my iPhone.  Funnily enough, I'm most of the time the only husband/man at these events, much to the amazement of the yummy mummies. I can see them stare at me with utter disbelief because I don't "participate" with supporting comments and other gestures to my daughter.  I just let her do her stuff at her own pace and she really loves it.  She's sooooo proud every time and talks for hours about what she did that day.

It's not easy being a "single parent", looking after two maniac hobbits with millions of activities to do.  The car is being seriously tested in regards to mileage and my cleaning skills have improved immensely (BTW, My wife doesn't consider cleaning a woman's job). By the time I get to sit down with my cup of Joe in the sofa, it's almost 20.30. That's when my wife looks at me with begging puppy eyes wondering if I could give her some neck massage.

In bed by 21.30 and up at 04.00.  Blimey, yesterday morning I folded the clothes and prepared pancakes well before 07.30 - I actually had to re-heat the pancakes as the rest of the family didn't come downstairs until 09.00  By then I was already changing to go outside to mow the lawn.

Who cares about expensive gyms, when you can be on the go for 12 hours daily.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

There's always one!

Flying home from my dad’s funeral, was relieving as well as painful.  I was leaving my grieving mother behind, but I was also looking forward to see my own family again.  The only hurdle between me and my wife (and of course kids) was a 2 hour plane ride.

I really enjoy traveling, but sometimes time is just crawling by.  Perhaps it’s because I arrive in the airport several hours before take off, but I can’t help it, I hate rushing through the airport.  Being in time, and preferably several hours, is my ideal scenario.  This in deep contrast to my wife, who thrives on adrenaline - the question lurking over us as to whether we’ll make the flight or not.  If you’ve ever tried running across Schipol airport with two kids (under the age of 30 months), aging mother-in-law and wife, then you’ll know stress.  You haven’t fully lived until you’ve done that.

Anyway, killing time in the airport is easy for me.  I have a natural talent for wasting money on souvenirs, primarily for the family, and this becomes more and more with 3 kids.  Also, as a tradition I always have to have a traditional Danish hot dog before leaving Denmark.  It's some weird superstition I've developed over the years, and the onions give you natural air while flying 13km above the surface, forcing you to think of something other than crash landing.  Nothing beats a Danish hotdog (ristet hotdog med det hele).

Having spent almost 3 hours in CPH airport you tend to get somewhat bored, so it was a delight when my flight home started to board.  It's only a 2 hour flight, so not many air-miles.  The amusing thing about these short jumps are that the waiting passengers are desperately trying to get on the plane, despite having a boarding-card and assigned seat.  They huddle around the only check-in person and queuing becomes a thing of the past.  The queue is more like a octopus with 8 arms, and people just squeeze in.

After a 10 minute waddle to check-in, I was dragging my 7 shopping bags through the narrow cabin, looking for my seat and an empty overhead locker.  I managed to bump into all passengers, on both sides of the aisle, until I finally found my seat - I was sitting on row 15, so plenty of upset people starring at me from behind, probably thinking of ways to return the favour of dislocating their elbows.  Thanks to self-service check-in, I was sitting alone and could spread my loot across 3 seats.

It is always amusing to see how people waddle down the aisle, stopping abruptly when they spot their seat and block the rest of the passengers from reaching their seat.  There's always one or two among the passenger who doesn’t understand that they are delaying the boarding of the flight, and possible take-off, by standing there and pressing their luggage into the already full overhead locker.

Having witnessed the remaining passengers find their seat, I unpacked and prepared for the 2 hour crossing.  In front of me were three rather large blokes and as soon as we reached the cruising altitude, 2 of them moved their seats into lying position.  Frantically, I was starring at the greasy hair top of the guy in front of me, praying that he wouldn’t recline too.

I have absolutely no idea why people need to recline their seats for a short flight.  The old smelly fecker in front of me decided to join his mates, probably pretending they were lying on some sun-bed in Fuertaventura.  Then they started to speak loudly and moving wildly in their seats, making my coffee squirt hot coffee on to my lap.  Forced to withhold screaming, I instead dug my nails into the armrests.  I looked to the row next to me, and the elderly lady looked at me as if I was in pain, probably thinking that I was gripping the seat that hard because I was scared of flying.  She gently smiled and said that it'll be ok.  What did she know about my leg being eaten by atomic coffee.

Back to the smelly ogre in front of me, with his Shrek ears.  How do you approach this.  Do you complain to the guys, praying they are not hidden Hells Angel members, tell on them to the steward or do you suffer the pain for 2 hours?   (by the way, the steward freaked me out a bit.  He was a very pleasant and polite man, in a tanned short-sleeved shirt, but as he stretched his arms to close the overhead lockers, he revealed a tattoo under each bicep - some ancient language - was he a member of illuminati or some other sect, or was it just the names of his kids in his native language.)

I have long legs and need legroom, but either of the options were not really appealing.  However, I opted for option 3.

Gently, I tapped the guy on the head, getting some strange oily stuff on my fingers, and kindly asked him to straighten his seat.  He was not amused and stated he had to sleep, whereto I replied that I was working and sitting 2 inches from a 15” HD MAC screen was not pleasant or good for my eyes.  There was absolutely no need to tell him that I was watching CSI - need to know basis.

The remaining 70 minutes of the journey I enjoyed with my seat back (reclined position), watching my favorite TV show, CSI, and getting free refill coffee from my male steward (sorry cabin crew dude).  Who cares about being polite when traveling anyway?

Soon I would see my lovely family again, and being pressed against my wife’s lactating breasts was something to look forward to.  All I had to endure was a 20 minute taxi ride, with an arrogant, complaining and gossip magnet of a taxi driver.

Your frequent flyer

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Every country has them!

You see them no matter where you travel.  They  are not a trade mark for any country, so you can't say that this is only a phenomenon in e.g. England.  When you do get too close, you always try to cross the street or go into the nearest shop.  But why is that?

Actually, I'm not talking about the normal low-life criminals.  They are too easy to spot and are often harmless, unless in groups of 3 and up.

What I'm talking about are the strange group of fat fuckers dressed in hoodies, biker clothes and track suits - but they have absolutely NO connection with e.g. Hells Angels.  Hells Angels are nice people, despite being involved in some minor gang related feuds, but they keep it within they community.

These hooded gorillas are normally walking around thinking they are the dogs bollocks, just because they wear Orange Chopper sweatshirt hoody.  It is not exactly like they are threatening or mean like Senior Teutul, but they think they are so cool.  No criminal organisation would hire them because they are out of shape and lacking verbal skills, other than saying "Fuck You", "What are you looking at?" and "Go Rooney!"

The average age for these dudes is around mid forties, but they like to hang out with younger blokes too, pretending to be young again.  Obviously their midlife crisis.

If you look closely, they are actually very much like a group of chimpansees, and they behave similarly. They stroll around in their enclosure and pretend to be tough, but in reality they are scared of confrontation.  They thrieve on being loud instead, but only as a group.  Sir Attenbourough would be able to make a program about these, together with McIntyre of course, on human behaviours.

That said.  The younger generation in these groups are the ones to be scared of.  They'll act agressively, destroy everything in their path (such as benches, trains, pubs, etc.) and act first by hitting people.  Again, very similar to the animal kingdom, like hyenas.  Stay clear of them if possible, they bite!

Another goup of hoodies that really make me laugh, are the ones that you always see on TV destroying everything to do with capitalism, and thereafter meet n McDonlad's for some food.  They are always covering their faces, so that can only make me wonder if they are proud of what they believe in or not.  They want to change the way government act towards world poverty, but then they destroy cities and expect to get a community house where they can hang out.  One house these weirdos squadded in Copenhagen was an old abonded house - which I don't mind.  But, this particular house was marked to be demolished because is wasn't safe; the interior was covered with asbestos, which we all know is lethal to inhale.  They got really upset when evicted and caused the usual mayhem in the capital.  Then the government gave them a new house, a fully decotared club house, and they quickly destroyed that too.  I guess it was cramping their style.

This group of people reminds me of the noisy black-headed gulls floating in the skys, stealing every food they can find and harrass all costal areas.  They are really annoyingly loud (squawking) and their political agenda is getting boring.

I'm sure that if any hoody reads this blog, they either get really offended or they want me to join their little tea party.  Please be aware and cautious when encountering these hooded individuals - unless you are Harry Brown.  

In all honesty, most of these hoody dressed guys annoy me, but they still have the right dress the way they want.  I'm sure they hate guys dressed with shirt and tie, thinking they are are stuck-up twats.  We live in a free World, but respect your fellow earthlings and don't beat up people just because you think it's fun.