Category Archives: family

Back again…

Last week I was out of the country, and I didn’t post a ‘What to Watch’ or ‘Meet the Author.’ I’d like to tell you what I’ve been up to. I turned fifty not so long ago, so I spent two days with my twin sister on Texel in the Netherlands before meeting up with some other family I hadn’t seen in years, next to spending some time with my Mom of course. Fifty is quite an age. I wondered if I was halfway or whether most of my time was up already.

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Then I witnessed a horrible accident last Monday. I was walking with my Mom and a friend through The Hague. We came to a crossing with trams going both ways. Not at that moment, but it was a busy street with cars in the outside lanes and trams and cars on the inside lanes. There were two elderly people crossing the road on the zebra path. The man was using a walking stick, the woman was carrying shopping bags. I recall the man sticking his hand up toward an approaching car. The car didn’t stop. Next thing I saw was the two pensioners being thrown into the air, over the car like they were doing cartwheels, their bodies skidding over the tarmac for several meters before finally coming to a halt more than ten meters from where they were scooped up.

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I can’t tell you what went through my mind right then. You just can’t believe that what you saw really happened. You can’t believe someone could survive such a hit. There were croissants strewn over the road as well as oranges and bananas. There were also the walking stick of the man, both shoes of the woman, and her sock. Her sock. How fast must she have been flung through the air if even her sock came off? The woman was as white as a ghost, and we feared she was dead on impact. The man was heavier and had come to a halt about two meters earlier than the woman. We had seen his head bouncing off the edge of the pavement. Both of them didn’t move at all once the kinetic force of the hit was gone. It appeared later that they were both still alive, but the woman died before she could be taken to a hospital. The man died after being taken away.

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Foundations of a 5000-year-old farm

I thought again about my lifespan. The average age doesn’t mean anything. It’s a statistic and has absolutely no meaning to an individual. You could live twenty years longer than the average age or get hit by a car before you get home from doing your shopping. What the experience did stress was that life is too short to be unhappy. I had brain surgery in 2009 and had realized this there and then already. I was able to quit my job and do the things I like. It took me another six years to find out I really enjoy writing. I have tried to make the most of my life ever since. I make an effort to spend as much time with my children as possible, before they leave the parental nest. I moved from Australia back to Europe to be able to spend more time with the rest of my family. The accident made me realize I need to take even more time to love my loved ones. Life is short. Make the most of it. No regrets!

 

 

Mental Exhaustion!

I just spend most of the day booking flights; one to the Netherlands in May to visit my family, and one to the Dublin Writers’ Conference in June. Now I’m mentally exhausted! I don’t know about you, but I find it so stressful (I know, total first world problem). It’s not so much that I can’t find my way on the internet. The Expedia and KLM websites are extremely user-friendly. It’s just the stress of finding the right price for flights and accommodation and filling in my details correctly.

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The prices are enough to give you a headache. The cost for the writers’ conference wasn’t too bad, but I hadn’t calculated in the cost of staying in Dublin. Man, those prices are ridiculously expensive. It cost almost as much for just myself as for a family of four! I had looked into bringing the whole family with me, but it would cost too much for the short time there. In the end, I settled on a hostel where I could rent a ‘pod.’ I had never heard of this, but it’s basically a bunk bed, but with only the head-side open (see image).

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There’s a curtain at the bed head and six others in the room. I’m only going to be there to sleep, so I don’t mind not to have a whole room to myself. Fingers crossed none of my roommates will have sleeping apnoe as this would keep me awake all night (with or without earplugs!). The hostel has the option of storing luggage, so I don’t have to drag my luggage with me during the conference. Phew!

It was troublesome to book the flight to and fro. Aberdeen isn’t a very traveled location, and as I wanted a direct flight only, there wasn’t much choice. I had to book an extra night to be able to attend the full conference, and I’ll have to get up very early on Monday to catch the first plane out (another reason the family isn’t joining me as they need to go to work/school in time). I had to weigh up what was more important; attending the whole conference or spending less money. As I was able to book this pod accommodation, which was about five times cheaper (!) than the hotel, I thought I could afford the extra cost of another night and be able to attend the whole conference.

As with my booking with KLM, I needed to be very careful which details I wrote down on my booking. See, I’ve got dual nationality and both passports state a different surname. In my Dutch passport, I am known by my maiden name, whereas in my Australian passport I have my husband’s surname. I have already once booked a flight to London on my husband’s surname and couldn’t travel as I didn’t have a valid travel document. It was a very costly mistake.

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I have also made the mistake of booking the wrong dates once. As I have multiple experiences of seeing things differently than they are (I know, freaks me out!), I am very insecure when booking these kinds of things. I prefer to have someone with me, just to confirm I’m seeing what I’m seeing before hitting the enter button. But, I’ve got to toughen up and make decisions for myself. You don’t learn if you don’t make mistakes 🙂

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Even though I hate it to be jet-setting and leaving my family behind, I’m looking forward to both trips. I’m hoping to learn more about publishing at the conference and do some networking. I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday with my twin sister and catching up with some family I haven’t seen in years. What’s not to look forward to?! Getting lost, losing luggage, sleeping in and missing my plane… Okay, but assuming it all goes to plan, what is there not to look forward to?! It’ll be a ball 🙂

What To Watch? The Family

I’m sorry, I know I should’ve posted this yesterday, but I’m extremely busy at the moment with my WIP which needs to be handed in on Amazon this Friday. Apart from that, I haven’t watched any movies this weekend… again! Why? Because we went to Holland to celebrate my father-in-law’s eightiest birthday. It was a big family reunion. So, what do I recommend to watch? The Family, of course!

The Family

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The Plot

The Family, a 2013 movie, is about a mob family who, after they almost get blown up during a bbq after which the father decides to talk to the police about his rival, get put into a witness protection program. They move to France, but staying undercover is easier said than done for this ‘typical’ American family. Not only do the locals have a problem with the new arrivals, their trail of destruction also notifies their enemies of their location.

The Cast

It has a great cast with Robert de Niro as the father, Michelle Pfeiffer as the mother, and Tommy Lee Jones as the FBI agent. Dianna Agron plays the freaky daughter and John D’Leo plays the son who has learned a thing or two from his dad.

Here’s a trailer that gives you a good idea of what to expect:

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I love this movie and not only because the father tries to be a writer (he wants to write his memoirs as a mob figure). There are so many crazy things happening. It’s all over the top, of course, and no family issue remains untouched. So don’t watch this if you’re sensitive about certain issues. It’s all tongue-in-cheek but can hit a nerve here and there.

Dislikes

I honestly can’t remember if there was something I didn’t like about this movie.

If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. If you have, go watch it again 🙂

 

Happy New Year!

It’s 2018… and I’m back!

It’s been a while, over a month I’d say, and I’ve missed blogging. Did you miss me? I bet you’ve had many things to keep you busy over the festive season. I have so many things to tell you and I hardly know where to start. 2018 is going to be such an active year for me.

Killing A Vampire

My biggest accomplishment in 2017 was finishing Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy. I was able to send it to the beta readers before Christmas, and I’m receiving their responses back now. The few grammatical errors (tenses keep being my bane), the odd remark on character statements, but overall a positive reaction. I even received a pat on the back for two suspenseful chapters by Kathy Lance, an ex-director of an international school of linguists and now book reviewer for One Stop Fiction. She’s a tough one, writing very honest reviews, and her comment made me very proud.

I must admit I was a bit wary of this book when I began writing it. I have planned this story for a long time, and writing it according to ‘plan’ felt different than writing the first two books, which were written ‘from the wrist.’ Writing the interactions between the characters still felt exciting as they were new on the page, but I worried about the storyline once I finished it.  I wanted a grand finale and felt my story lacking. I discussed the issue with my family and they helped me improve it. Now I have revised the ending, got rid of the grammatical errors, and changed the wording here and there, I feel this story is a great ending to the trilogy and am ready to promote it.

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Christmas Celebration

Over Christmas, we flew to Holland to spend time with the family. We visited almost all of our dearest family and slept in four different beds in the seven days we were there. The weather was great, we only had rain the last day. We were very lucky to get a Maastricht city tour from my uncle, who has been a tour guide in one of Holland’s oldest cities. We visited the tunnels as well, which was very different from what I expected. We spent two days in the Efteling, a fairytale theme park, which is always a big hit with the kids. It was great to see everyone again and we were sad to leave.  I was glad to sleep in my own bed again though 🙂

What is 2018 going to bring?

Promoting

First of all, the promotion of my trilogy. I never thought I would ever write a book, so finishing three has been a major accomplishment in my life. It gives me a real boost and I’m looking forward to promoting them. I love writing and will continue. There are so many new ideas already flying around in my head.

Improving health

The new year also brings a new year’s resolution for me as I have never been this unhealthy and overweight in my life. Writing has been my passion and I have put all things aside for it. This year, I need to take more care of my body, my family, and my house. I have started doing yoga exercises and will begin doing some physical exercises as well. I’ll have to take it slow, as I’m as flexible as a door. Next to this, I fell on my wrist during ice skating on our holiday and it is still painful. Fingers crossed it won’t be a chronic issue.

 

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Family time

I also need to take out more time for my family as I feel like I have neglected them badly and want to spend more time with them. I’m going to cut our TV-watching dinners and eat at the dining table so we can have actual conversations. Cooking more interesting dinners and resolving the draft issues in the dining room will probably help promote this.

Renovations

2018 is also the year that we are going to have major renovations done to the house. We have decided that it takes too long to do everything ourselves. Sometimes you need to put a little water to your wine. The work doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it functions and you can enjoy life instead of worrying about not having enough time. So, the kitchen and family bathroom are going to be done by someone else than ourselves. The kitchen project will cause some problems as last year, my husband decided to rip out the little kitchen in the basement ‘because it was ugly.’ We will now have to organize a makeshift kitchen in the dining room when we rip out the old kitchen. This will mean my previous resolution of having meals in the dining room will have to be postponed, but hopefully it won’t take a whole year (famous last words).

Reading

As I won’t be writing 24/7 anymore, I also hope to have more time to read so watch this space for some awesome book reviews!

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Do you have any new year’s resolutions or major plans for 2018? I’d love to hear what’s written down on your calendar 🙂

Lost!

For some reason or another, I googled Ian Somerhalder today (to be honest, does one need a reason?). You know, Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. To my surprise, I found out that he was a character in the series Lost. He played the character Boone Carlyle and died in the twentieth episode due to his injuries from being crushed inside a falling plane.

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Now, I didn’t watch all the seasons of Lost. I think I managed to get to the end of season two, by which time I was fed up with the non-endings and unrealistic happenings. The only reason I watched season two was because I wanted to know what was in the hatch. Maybe, deep down, I was no longer interested because Ian Somerhalder was no longer in it.

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My kids don’t know the series Lost, they are too young. I think I need to watch season one again with them. You know, because it’s good for their all-round knowledge 🙂 .

It’s the Season of the Witch

Yesterday, I had to play the Wicked Witch of the West, a mother’s prerogative. We booked tickets to see the second Kingsmen movie. As they’re working on the freeway to go around Aberdeen, we were guided along a detour that almost got us to Aberdeen via Inverness, but we managed to get there just in time. I got my phone out and showed the lady the Q-code. “Okay,” she says after scanning it, “Can I see some IDs please.”

Now you must know that we are regular visitors at the cinema. Not that I’ve seen this particular lady before, but we are visiting this place about twice a month.  Never before have we been asked for IDs. I have, however, since my kids turned fifteen, told them to bring IDs to the cinema. We buy them student tickets and to see a 15-rated movie they need proof of studentship and being older than fifteen.

I turned to my children and they are both shaking their heads. They didn’t bring their IDs. The woman said we couldn’t go in without proof they were students and older than fifteen. I browsed my whole photo gallery on my phone, but she wouldn’t accept any photo of my kids in school uniform. Of course, I didn’t have any proof of their age either. My son looks like he could be eighteen and my daughter could pass for twelve (they are twins nevertheless).

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I ‘lost the plot’ and reacted very badly, cursing at anybody who tried to get my attention. We got a refund and drove back again. I didn’t speak a word the whole trip. I even refused a chocolate as a peace offer and the kids know it’s bad when their mother refuses to eat chocolate. My husband didn’t get it. He even tried to soothe me. I was laughing on the inside but put up a wicked face until the end. When we got home I gave everybody a hug and told them to never to forget their IDs again. We then watched the first Kingsmen movie from the comfort of our home instead.

Sometimes, you just have to let your kids know they screwed up big time for them to remember not to make that mistake twice 🙂 .

 

Images from NMgnCP.com

Nostalgia

In case you’ve been wondering what happened to my posts these last few days; I’ve been visiting my family in Holland. My sister was coming over from Curacao and my nephew had graduated and was embarking on a three-month-long trip, so it was good to be there when the family got together as these gatherings are rare happenings. I left Monday morning and returned this Thursday morning. It was a flash-visit and also a very late decision. Hence I was traveling on my own, which was a shame, but it was great to catch up with everybody. Tuesday, my Mom and I took a short trip through memory lane. We walked past my old primary school. It was being rebuilt and the whole terrain was different. We continued to the place where my Mom’s auntie used to live, to the place she was born, and to the place her Nana used to live. We walked past shops I used to do the grocery shopping as a child. Some of them were still shops but no longer the shops I visited. 20171017_171551When my Mom showed me where her Nana lived, a memory popped up in my mind. It was of an old woman in black clothing (including a very big, black skirt), sitting in the middle of a small, dark room. My Mom said that her living room was indeed a very dark one and that she did wear black clothing (as her husband had died years before). The funny thing is that I must have been only one-and-a-half to remember this as she died when I was about that age and there are no photos of her (as far as I know). I also thought there were stairs in the room, but Mom said this was untrue. My Nana, Mom’s Mom, did have stairs in her little apartment and I must have mixed up the two houses in my memory. Mom also said that whenever we passed her Nana’s home, I, as a toddler, would always point to her Nana’s house and say ‘Opoe, Opoe,’ which is the Dutch word for Nana. That, I can’t remember.20171017_170644.jpgAs we walked through memory lane, I thought about how familiar it all looked. The streets, the buildings, their style. The fact I had spent my youth here, ran around, had fun, did some mischief, it all had an impact on me. That time is gone. It will never come back. Only in my memory of course. Where I live now, my kids don’t run around in the street. They don’t visit friends on their own. I have to drive them everywhere. They will never enjoy the fun we had when hanging around in the neighborhood, meeting other kids, secretly setting fires, pulling people’s doorbells, and other kinds of naughty stuff. I felt sad, but I am so glad I have those memories. They will always make me feel good. Sad as well, but a good type of sad.

 

 

 

How do we stop Sexual Harassment?

The big news at the moment is the Weinstein saga. So many actresses are coming out about being sexually harassed by Weinstein, it’s not funny anymore. It’s never funny, of course; one harassment is already one too many. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s still happening. To men and women alike. And people know about it but do nothing. When is it ever going to stop?

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Women think they are safe because they live in a civilized country. Define civilized. Women still earn less than men for the same job, they still are expected to stay at home and raise the children (in most Western countries), and they are still asked sexual favors in return for moving up the ladder career-wise. I don’t think this is civilized. No sir, not at all.

I’ve had this happening to me first hand. I’ve had a boss who thought he could get away with it (and unfortunately he did as I decided to resign). And I’ve been put down by a film director because I was a woman (I think, can’t prove it of course). It sucks when it happens. And worst of all, women (like me) condone it. They keep their mouths shut, afraid of being called a slut, afraid of losing their job, afraid of making an elephant out of a mouse. If there is one thing I like to teach my daughter, it’s that she never ever tolerates this behavior and will always speak up when it happens to her or knows it’s happening to others.

If we want to change men’s attitude to women, it’s up to us women. We’re 50% of the world population after all. We need to speak up. Not afterward, not to other women, but right there and then, to the men doing it. Tell them they are demeaning, that they are cruel, that they are barbaric. Tell them you won’t have it happening, not to you, not to others. Expose them for what they are; sexual predators who are misusing their position. If you keep quiet about it, you risk them doing it to others. Would you want that on your conscience? What if it’s your friend, your sister, or your daughter? Would you keep quiet then?

The cast is off!

I took my son to the hospital yesterday and, after five-and-a-half weeks, they took his cast off. For those of you who don’t know this, he broke his fibula when doing long jumps in a sandpit during lunch at school. He does karate and Parkour (which is sort of Free Running with more acrobatic stunts), so to have him break his leg in a sandpit at school was a bit of a surprise 🙂 . I must admit I thought it was a bit early to take the cast off, but hey, I’m not an orthopedic surgeon. His ankle wasn’t as swollen as before (you can see this clearly in the X-ray), but not completely normal yet. The calf muscles not too wasted. All in all, my son is doing well.

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We had a coffee and donut in a coffee shop afterward. As he had two free periods at school, he asked me to take him to the hairdresser. When that was done and dusted, I took him back to school, only to find out he forgot to bring his schoolbag. Duh. So I took him grocery shopping instead (serves him right, the little bugger). Although I didn’t do any writing yesterday, it was a nice day spent with my youngest offspring 🙂 .

Fun Friday!

I have mixed feelings about the past week. The worst thing about it was that I did my back in. I had gone to the gym on Tuesday. Had no problem doing my exercises at the time, but on Wednesday my back was killing me. I kept getting spasms in a muscle on the left-hand side with minuscule movements. Extremely painful. I didn’t get much sleep that night. I took ibuprofen which helped a little, but it didn’t stop the spasms. I got my husband to pick up some diazepam from the pharmacy, which my GP prescribed me, which would function as a muscle relaxant. I am very happy to say it worked. I only got up twice last night 🙂 .

What were the fun things? Well, I got some feedback back from my beta-readers. Only four typos found so far. Pretty chuffed with this as I think it could have been far worse. I chatted with someone I met via Twitter. He started reading my book and said he found it a good read. Music to my ears! Last week, I forgot to mention, another author told me she revised her book after my review. I was very humbled that she took my words to heart.

I’ve also figured out how to work with Amazon Associates. I may start to earn something now. For a change.

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I’m still listening to the ‘Good Omens’ audio book. It’s too good to put away. My daughter actually began reading the book when I started listening and she’s finished already! We had to get the box with Terry Pratchett books from storage for her. She’s totally hooked on his humor now. You can get ‘Good Omens’ here.

I’m looking forward to the weekend as I’m attending a creative writing workshop in Elgin and we’re filming with AFP again. Busy, busy, busy. On top of this, I am getting some unexpected visitors from down south for lunch. I haven’t seen them for a year, so I’m looking forward to catching up. I better go make my house a bit more representable 😀 .

I’m not forgetting the memes. Here they are: