Tag Archives: Family

BBQ tech and recipes – beercan chicken, snørbrød, rotisserie and roasts

snørbrød med rodpolseOne of the many lovely things about visiting Amanda’s family in Denmark is that there are so many ‘grillmasters’ – BBQ wizards who know everything about BBQ’ing and have the technology to prove it.

They use barbecues there in ways we don’t remotely seem to consider here. Amanda’s cousin Thomas was gifted a plug-in rotisserie for his Weber BBQ, to allow him to do juicy, juicy roasts. He also spoke of his Weber beercan chicken device – to achieve the same impact that Christopher Walken does in this video – only using a BBQ.

Jokke and Onkle spoke of the benefits of indirect heat and did a number of full-on roasts – beef and lamb – on the BBQ. On the one night we BBQ-ed for them, Onkel was actually surprised that we wanted to put meat directly onto the grill!

Jokke and Annie’s other mastery came in the form of snørbrød – BBQ’d bread, Viking style. Bread dough is mixed, left to rise, and then pulled around a trimmed down stick. Hold over barbecue and rotate until the bread cooks through – and pull of stick to reveal perfect receptacle for jam, sausage, ketchup – whatever you like! Amazing, and particularly wonderful with the Danish rodpolse – best hot dogs ever.

All yummy.

In a not unrelated conversation with NCT friend Darren, we mused as to whether there might be a market in BBQ flavoured scent. Everyone would assume you had always just been barbecuing and that would give you a rugged, manly aura, I’ve no doubt, in a not unappealing way. Amanda wasn’t that impressed at the idea, though, so I might not be a consumer of it myself…

I sense a long summer of barbecuing ahead!

Dream feed

One of the lovely rituals I’ve taken on since the sabbatical started is giving Emily her ‘dream feed’ – a bottle feed she has a couple of hours after going to bed. She consumes the lot whilst asleep – but does have definite modes of asleepness. When I get her up initially to feed she sucks away hungrily at the bottle. Anywhere between half and three quarters of the way through the feed she normally falls completely asleep, and I have to use sneaky Dad-tactics to keep her going – usually a smooch to the cheek or forehead.

Being a dad is awesome.

Cultural differences in kinship terminology

I’ve been trying to work out to describe how our daughter Emily is related to the various people she’s been meeting over the last several weeks. To my Mum and Dad’s siblings, she’s a great-niece. To my cousins, she’s a first-cousin once removed. To my cousin’s children, she’s a second cousin.

This is all right and true, as established by the common European kinship relationship system, drawn out here.

A few people commented that “[East] Indians have a different way of doing it,” and indeed they do. As to various native American tribes, the Chinese, the Scandinavians and everyone else. As Emily has claim to several of these traditions, I thought I’d look into it to see if there was anything in the Dravidian kinship system (on my Father’s side) or Indo-Aryan (on my Mother’s) or Danish (on Amanda’s mother’s) side to bear this out.

Turns out, not so much. The Danish tradition looks pretty similar to the standard European one as far as I can tell, although there is gender-attribution in the kinship terminology – you reference whether the relationship is on your father or mother’s side.

Similar things hold true as far as using gender to reference relationships in the various Indian traditions, but truth be told, it gets mind-bendingly confusing and no-one in my family uses these terms to mean what they mean in common English usage. From Wikipedia:

The Dravidian kinship system involves selective "cousinhood." One’s father’s brother’s children and one’s mother’s sister’s children are NOT cousins but brothers and sisters "one step removed." They are considered "consanguinous" ("pangali") and marriage with them is strictly forbidden as it is "incestuous." However, one’s father’s sister’s children and one’s mother’s brother’s children are considered cousins and potential mates ("muraicherugu"). Marriages between such cousins are allowed and encouraged. There is a clear distinction between "cross" cousins who are one’s true cousins and parallel cousins who are in fact "siblings". Like Iroquois people, Dravidians refer to their father’s sister as "mother-in-law" and their mother’s brother as "father-in-law."

As Amazing as Amanda is, I think she’d struggle with the idea that I had 8 mother-in-laws when we got married, and indeed I find the idea that half my first cousins were “potential mates” based on random gender bias more than a bit bizarre. There’s even more explanation of this perspective here. Given that I know how genetics work, I’m going to dismiss this kinship terminology as inappropriate for our purposes, especially given no-one I’m related to uses these relationships to have these meanings or consequences.

On the Aryan side, I’ve struggled to find freely available web resources explaining how the various North Indian groupings view kinship. Similarly to the Danes, there are gender specific biases (my mother is technically Emily’s “Dadi” – ‘Father’s mother’, although she doesn’t like the term so we arbitrarily use something else). Most people of my generation, rather than reference their “mother’s sister’s son or daughter” just use the word “kәzin” to cover all of these (in the Sindhi tradition, according to this – section 3.2.1). Which makes it seem vaguely similar to the European tradition.

So that’s it. There’s no “grand aunts”, second cousins are what the children of first cousins are to each other and first cousins aren’t “uncles” to each others’ cousins’ children, but first cousins once removed. I’m sticking with that until I read anything obviously and heroically contradictory :-)

Of course, it’s been abundantly clear that this issue is anything but simple and a number of academic papers have been authored on the subject, including some by none other than my own professor mother. But what is clear to me is that the desire to attribute “aunt” or “uncle” ship to everyone is little to do with kinship – rather it is steeped in the culture of respect for elders and the titles are used for that purpose alone. Which, for me, is no bad thing.

Best songs to sing to our baby

Every set of parents, no doubt, have a particularly useful set of tunes for singing to / playing to their children for calm, play, fun and frolics. Here are some of ours – in no particular order.

  1. Show me the way to go home – YouTube here – I sing this one to calm Emily down.
  2. Dingle dangle scarecrow – YouTube here – for all occasions
  3. Heads shoulders knees and toes – for instructing Emily in basic anatomy
  4. Twinkle twinkle little star – Nani’s favourite tune to sing to her – although you gotta love the Mozart variations
  5. A whole new world – YouTube here – sung whilst teaching Emily how to waltz
  6. Incy wincy spider – in Danish – YouTube here
  7. Ten in the bed and the little one said – roll over – sung whilst training her to… roll over
  8. Boogie Woogie Washerwoman – slowly for sleep, quickly for play! Can’t find an ‘official’ version of this song but here’s a random singing it on YouTube.
  9. “Walking on sunshine” – re-worded so she’s “Walking on Daddy.” A favourite game!

Lullabies – generally we just play her an album for this – this one – and it helps Emily with her bedtime routine  alongside a wind-up ticking alarm clock and a sheep much like this one (thanks to Luke & Em). Amanda sings a calming set of vowel sounds to help her sleep when she’s upset.

What are your songs to sing to baby??

Datukship for Grandpa

The Malaysian equivalent of  knighthood is “Datuk” – which is also the  Malay word for ‘progenitor’ or ‘ancestor’ according to Google Translate. In common parlance, my Dad received his Datukship five months ago when Emily was born. Technically my Mum too, although I’m not sure if Datukship is only for the men or not, but certainly they are both ‘progenitors’ of Emily!

Was amused when Aunty Maria pointed it out. Expect my folks will get the joke made to them a fair few more times in the weeks and months ahead!

Update: My Dad has not been ‘awarded’ a Datukship. He became a Datuk when Emily was born – i.e. he became a grandpa. Apparently this wasn’t clear!!

Giggles with Emily

gigglesMy daughter’s adorable. She’s not easy to make laugh, though, and therefore it was with a real sense of achievement that I not only managed to eke out a full 2 minutes of giggles out of her with the help of Ambrose the Hippo (now renamed Peeka), playing peekaboo off the edge of her buggy – but also captured it on video!

If you’re a Facebook friend you can view the vid on my wall. If you’re not, you get this pic. She’s even more beautiful when she laughs!

Speech training with the King

Amanda and I loved the King’s Speech – a wonderfully executed film. Despite my predisposition for disliking Colin Firth (mainly because every girl I know thinks he’s amazing, including my good lady wife), he’s really very good in it and Geoffrey Rush is pretty spectacular.

Watching the film did bring back memories of doing speech exercises when we were young with my Dad. Mr David Snr had a number of speech training lessons has a 20-something in London and wanted to relay them to us – so we would grow up confident, capable of projecting and never have to deal with confidence issues as adults.

We did some of the things in the clip below, in addition to reading Lincoln’s speeches whilst walking on a treadmill, doing lots of “lalalalalas”, dancing around the living room and singing (badly) to Boney M tracks. We’d whisper and try to project to the back of the room whilst reading speeches, we’d bounce and shout and sing. We didn’t thank him much for it at the time, although it was impossible not to enjoy the Boney M part of it…

At school, I took more of my Dad’s advice – confronting the fear of public speaking by joining the debating society and putting myself into every public speaking context I could find for myself. No more speech exercises required – and today I take and enjoy every opportunity I have for presenting… and possibly rather too many opportunities to make speeches at friends’ birthdays and the like.

Having appreciated the benefits of my Dad’s training and got the perspective of what it brought me as an adult, I’m wondering how Emily will react if and when we expose her to the same sorts of things when she’s little older. Will she, like we did, look slightly incredulously on at Daddy wondering what this is all about?

Probably, but hopefully she’ll have the fun we did too.

The simple joys of parenthood

Emily continues to be a joy and seeing her come on has been a daily source of entertainment and proud pleasure for us both. Some special highlights for me as she passes her four month birthday:

– Getting her ready for bed in the evening. She has a nightly soak in a warm baby bath – partly to get her used to the idea that water/baths are fun, partly to get her tired enough for a long sleep, and partly to get her clean. I hold her there and try to eke out a smile, which she provides obligingly every now and again, and kicks into the water determinedly. Adorable. Followed by oil massage!

– Helping her cope with teething with Sophie the teething giraffe. Or possibly giraffe shaped teething aid. In any case, watching her hand movements go from random flapping (in itself very cute) to a focussed, directed movement with the aim of getting Sophie into her tiny jaws is an amazing thing.

– Fighting for giggles. Whilst easily one of the smiliest babies I’ve ever met, Emily gives out laughs very occasionally. I’ve a few tricks that can result in a little burst of laughter, including the feigned drop (only to be conducted by her parents!), the tickle (which never used to do anything, but which she is gradually finding more entertaining), the baby-yoga (which she finds disproportionately funny) and a few others we’re working to refine.

– The morning smile. She always wakes up with a big grin and it is possibly one of the most fulfilling things for anyone to see. It melts our hearts and pretty much makes up for whatever overnight shenanigans she’s pulled.

– The lie-in. A consequence of the late night shenanigan, at the weekends she’s occasionally allowed to join us in bed for a lie-in. Sleep is hard for me to come by once she’s granted access to the bed – fear of crushing her! – but her peaceful sleeping smile gives us both some extra rest and fulfilment.

– The bird / leg grabbing manoeuvres – she’s just started doing these. The bird involves flapping arms up and down whilst puling legs in and stretching them out in rapid alternate cycles. The leg-grabbing manoeuvre involves grabbing her legs and lifting them as high as she can. Standard, but adorable.

– Tummy time. Emily’s generally not a fan, but seems to enjoy it more when she’s doing push-ups off Daddy’s chest. Absolutely adorable. Also featured: fake walking on Daddy’s chest.

– What’s going on, Daddy? She was in my lap this evening whilst I downed a cup of Berocca (fending off a particularly unpleasant cold). Fascinated by the bright orange drink, she’d put down Sophie (the aforementioned giraffe chew-toy) to track the Berocca glass as I brought it up for a sip, and then stare at me with a knowing look – as if to say “Daddy, anything that colour can’t be good for you.”

– Digital moments. Skype calls to grandparents and far-flung aunts and uncles have been a source of great fun for her, and for us. We feel much more connected. And I’m so pleased I got the iPhone4 Smile

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I’m enjoying parenthood. Emily had a wonderful time entertaining people at her first Coast party (Happy birthday Holly!), and is now resisting sleep. Ah well, that’s what ‘Music for Dreaming’ is for!

French Film on DVD!

FrenchFilmDVDMy brother and his film company made a movie a couple of years ago which is making it onto DVD in early Feb, just in time for Valentine’s day.

French Film, which I blogged about at the time of its cinematic release, is a funny, sweet love story told via the medium of French cinematographic stereotypes and, erm, Eric Cantona. It’s totally entertaining, very watchable, and only £7.99 on Amazon. Maybe Katie or Claire will even review it sometime? Or Laura might suggest it as a V-day gift?

Trailer follows. Please do go buy it if you’ve any interest in the genre!

If you’ve seen it, please write them a nice review on Amazon!

A weekend of Emexperiences

Wonderful weekend, as have they all been, but full on on four specific Emexperiences.

1) Poop. I got to change them all. No novelties here, except for instructing Aunty Sheila… who got to witness the ever unpleasant mid-change poop. Fortunately a well-located nappy cut collateral damage down to zero.

2) Sleep. On Sat night/Sun morning, Amanda decided I was responsible for all of Emily’s post-overnight feed burping… and where she’d only fed once over night the evening before, she was making up for lost time on Saturday. Every two hours, after Amanda fed her, I’d have to keep her upright for 10-25 minutes without dropping off to sleep myself to help the wind through her. Absolutely sleep-destroying and don’t know how Amanda does it every day, even with late night digestives to keep her energy up. My wife, ladies and gentlemen, is amazing.

3) Smiles. Emily did her first verified non-gas related smile this evening and it was an absolute joy – not only to see her smiling and happy but to witness her development. She’s a little on the early side – she’s 4 weeks old and the majority come in with first smiles around 6 weeks – so it was a delightful surprise. I have a new game – make Emily smile! Although am definitely not wishing the time away (sleep notwithstanding!)

4) Bathtime was fun. She always fusses royally about being bathed but fortunately today, whether through getting her water just right or some other act of fluke – she was pretty mellow throughout it. It’s a wonderful bonding experience – if I can get her to stop crying for long enough to enjoy it!

Anyway, wonderful weekend. Next up; things I’ve learned in early Dadhood…