Category Archives: family

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:

Time Management

I just got back from ‘an hour at the gym’. It’s now 11:11am. And I haven’t had my shower yet, so that’s the morning gone. I still have the grocery shopping to do, which will take another two hours. By the time I sit down to work on my cover revamp, it’s time to pick up the kids from school again. Somewhere I have to fit in the sanding and painting of the repatched dressing room ceiling as well.

My husband said this morning, “What are you going to do today?” In return, I asked him, “What are you going to do today?” He answered, “I’m going to work.” I was so jealous. I wished I could say that. I wished I could leave all this household stuff behind and spend eight hours a day five days a week working on my books.

‘Why don’t you?’ I hear you ask. Because that’s not how it works. I am a housewife. I don’t work. I have a hobby. He said so the other day.

Sigh.

Banner photo by Cliff Johnson at Unsplash
Cliff Johnson

A life or death situation

About two weeks ago I read on Facebook that somebody’s friend had died of asthma. I remember thinking ‘do people still die of asthma?’ Apparently they do. My daughter has asthma. Not severely, thankfully, but when she gets a cold, she gets it extra bad and needs to use her inhaler. Again, she’s doesn’t get it as bad as some people do, but enough to worry you as a mother.

Last weekend I went back to Holland to visit my family as my sister turned fifty and her husband had a retirement party. My Mum and I met my sister for lunch and found out she just came from the breast clinic where they found suspicious lumps in her breast. She needs to have more tests done and will hear the results a week later. That means a whole week in anxiety for her (and us). Both my sister and Mum were coughing from the other side of the lunch table as they apparently had a ‘bad cold.’ As I was staying with my Mum for the weekend, I naturally picked up this ‘bad cold.’ It actually was a H1N1 flu strain and had me knocked down within a few days. A sore throat, headaches, snotty nose, muscle aches, vomiting, chills, and sweaty spells. I got the lot.

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I hadn’t had a cold in years and it knocked my off my socks, as a matter of speech next to literally, that I was so susceptible to it. I didn’t have any existing health issues, yet this tiny little thing had me crawling on hands and knees in no time. What would this bug do to people who do have health issues? People who’s immune system is compromised by an illness, elderly people, people with asthma? And then it hit me that it may kill my daughter.

I’m not so short sighted that I think that I can shield my daughter from any outside effects. But what if I’m the one that brings in the rot? What if I contaminate her with a bug that hospitalises her? As we will have no doctor close at hand over the Christmas holidays, I had another issue to deal with. Do I try my best not to contaminate her and keep my distance for a week until I’m no longer contagious or, suspecting that I can’t prevent contaminating her as we’re living in the same house, do I contaminate her asap in order to get it over and done with now we still have access to a healthcare professional? I felt I had become her judge, jury, and executioner. I had to decide whether I actively made her sick or not.

However, you don’t say to your child ‘come here because I want to cough in your face so you can get this horrible illness.’ There is always the chance that she doesn’t get ill at all. Maybe I was not as healthy as I thought. Maybe she had this flu strain before, when she had that awful asthma spell a few years ago in Australia (the strain did start in Australia in 2009). You try to think of all sorts of reasons not to make your child ill. You have got to keep weighing the pro’s against the con’s though. What if she finally picks this highly contagious bug up elsewhere and we haven’t got access to a doctor at short notice? Is it worth the risk? Of course not. So I try to cough as ‘accidentally’ as possible near her. Because I love her.

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Tomorrow is the day that my sister will hear her test results and the last day my daughter can safely show the signs of contamination. If my daughter has a sore throat, she will have a rough time ahead, but will be able to get the healthcare she’ll need. If not, I will have to keep my fingers crossed she won’t show any symptoms for another three weeks. For both a moment that could possibly decide their fate.

A three-act day

Three Acts

After almost two weeks of school holidays I got my act together. Well, acts (plural) I should say. I now get up early -ahum, at 9am- and work on re-writing my first novel. Then at lunchtime I drag my kids away from their electronic entertainment and I teach them math. And as the grand finale I work on renovating my house until DH comes home. You could call it a four or five act day, if you include cooking and spending the evening with my family. But I’m talking about my ‘daytime’ act for the moment.

Why am I re-writing my first novel? Because I have learned a lot since I wrote it nearly a year ago. I realised that the build-up was a very slow, action only started to happen on page seventy, so I had to do something about that. As I am shuffling text around, creating flashbacks as to not lose my already written text (I can’t kill my darlings, not yet!), I am picking up a lot of mistakes too. I find my vocabulary has grown and I have learned to ‘say’ things in different ways. All in all a good thing, but time consuming.

The reason I all of a sudden got my ‘act’ together on this is because I received an invitation for a book fair in December. I have decided I want to promote my third book then, but I still have to write it. I can’t write it before I have re-written the first and second one, so there you have it. A stick behind the door!

Trigonometry

Why am I teaching my children math? Because I don’t agree with the school system at the moment. In August they will move to Year 3 of high school and they (basically) can only do one science subject; biology, physics or chemistry. Not all three at once. I wanted to let them make up their own mind and tried to organise for them to get some work experience in a hospital. Not that I want them to work in a hospital in particular, but I had to start somewhere with giving them options. It appears that they have to be sixteen before they are allowed to get experience. That just threw me. How can they limit their education now, when they have no possibility to find out what direction they want to go into? This system is just not working. So I collaborated with the school and I am now making them catch up half a year of Year 4 math work in the six weeks of holidays that we have, so they can join the Year 4s math class when they go back to school (as Year 3s) in August. I am also hoping they get extra lessons in the other science subjects, with pracs done at school and me teaching them the theory at home after school. This way they get a normal base of science knowledge and it will increase their options later. Some say I am cruel, I say you have to be cruel to be kind. It appears that Year 3 material is not amounting to much anyway, so why waste that year? And it beats them sitting in front of a computer/TV the whole day (from my point of view 🙂 ).

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And of course there is the forever renovation going on at our house. We recently finished our bedroom, so now we have moved on to the dressing room (the room next to our bedroom). We initially thought of putting a door between the two rooms, but that will cost us another cupboard, so we won’t. Saves a lot of work too! DH already took the window out for me to strip of paint and of course I found out today that my dust mask is broken. So tomorrow I will have to go get a new one. The problem is that the shop is a 45 minute drive away. I, unfortunately, will have to combine it with a cinema visit. To be cost efficient, of course 🙂 .

 

New story idea…

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Yesterday evening and this morning I had some discussions with my sisters. I had indicated on WhatsApp that there was something wrong and I must admit I was surprised they took the bait. We finally talked. Mind you, ‘talking’ on WhatsApp is a very simplistic form of communication. I always am annoyed that you can only see the last ten words you have typed and have to scroll up to see what you have already typed before. But it was communication nonetheless.

Was it good communication? Hmmm, I don’t think so. Yes, some things were cleared up. Like that my older sister is still upset I didn’t attend the cremation of my ‘brother.’ I put that in between apostrophes as I haven’t seen nor had a conversation with the man in over twenty plus years (apart from the fact that he was the son of my second father and I didn’t hear from him after my parents’ divorce, unless he needed me to take care of his cats). The last time I saw him I hadn’t even recognised him. I thought it would be hypocritical for me to come to his cremation as we were, in all effects, strangers. But my sister was there when he died. She had taken care of him in the previous months and she needed support, which I didn’t give. So I don’t blame her for being upset about that. I still stand by my actions though, but that has more to do with solidarity towards my mother, who also didn’t attend the cremation.

More things were said, about how we all make choices. The sad thing was that they didn’t have a clue why I made the choices I did. And that they probably still don’t. People hear what they want to hear and start pointing the blame finger as soon as somebody suggests something that doesn’t fit up their alley. I don’t say I’m without blame, I could have handled a lot of things different. I’m only human and, heaven’s knows, far from perfect. But like the saying at the top of the blog says; my sisters were listening to reply, not to understand.

The distance in a relationship doesn’t get any closer when you reduce the amount of kilometres between people. I learned that now, the hard way. After about half a year of trying to organise it we finally got together as a family (my mother, my two sisters and myself) a few months ago. I thought it would close the gap. As you can read from my blogs it hasn’t. Today this sprung me as a nice story plot for a new novel. I think I will write it one day. Because, you know… once a writer, always a writer…

Dissappointment or sadness?

disappointment

I don’t know what is worse:

the disappointment

or the sadness…

This morning I Skyped with my Mum again. We talked about this and that, as per usual, to keep up with each other’s lives as we live in different countries and I can’t come over for a cuppa as often as I would like. I moved all the way from Australia back to Europe to be closer to my family (in particular to my Mum and my two sisters). My husband couldn’t get a job on the mainland, so we settled for Scotland. I miss my family, I miss being able to go shopping with my sisters and having a cuppa with my Mum. Apparently they don’t.

As my Mum was chatting about her weekend she happened to mention the surprise party my niece had organised for her Mum (my older sister) as she had accepted a job abroad for the next two years and will leave the country at the end of the month. At first my Mum mentioned that it was a party for my sister’s friends. But then it appeared that my other sister was there as well, as was her daughter (my other niece), as was my mother. But not me.

I did mention to my Mum that I would have liked to have been invited. I think I would have gone if I had been invited, no matter the cost. But I wasn’t. I thought that, even though my oldest sister is not my best friend, my younger sister and/or my Mum would have included me in the celebrations. At least they could have sent an invite. But apparently I am not considered a friend nor family.

I was just getting over the whole script attack thing and now this. I think I’m just going to crawl into a hole and not come out for a while.

Long live the internet!

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I can’t deny it; we are an internet-dependent family. The only one not so tech-savvie is my DH. Even though he is the IT-person of the family and keeps us all going, he is the one that does not use the computer at home unless he really has to. And then he uses mine as he doesn’t have one of his own.

My daughter is hooked on Photoshop at the moment, expressing her creativity in cartoons. My son only just discovered we have an Adobe Cloud membership and is diving into Premiere Pro and After Effects as I type. And me, I can’t live without my phone, my laptop or my computer. I use it for Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, Google and now Scrivener.

I had installed Scrivener on my PC, but since my son wanted to give film editing a go and the Adobe licence is limited to only two computers (mine and his sister’s one), he was adamant he used mine for it. I was okay with that as long as I could get Scrivener on my laptop. And, lo and behold, it works! I downloaded my script to Dropbox and picked it up with my laptop. I downloaded Scrivener on my laptop and retrieved the serial number from my email list. As Gmail is a cloud-based program I had no problem retrieving it whilst my son was already using my computer. Now I can do my writing on my laptop, my son can do his editing with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects and my daughter can draw with Adobe Photoshop, all at the same time!

Every day I am amazed with the possibilities of technology…

Parenting is hard!

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Every parent wants their kids to have a beautiful smile, so last Wednesday I took my son to the orthodontist in Aberdeen. It’s a long story, the orthodontic one, so brace yourselves (pardon the pun!).

When my son was 11-yrs-old he could stick his thumb in between his upper and lower teeth when he had his jaws together. That’s how big the gap was. Not that he sucked his thumb, I have never seen him do this. Apparently he was pushing his top-teeth forward with his tongue. His jaw was also very narrow, making the teeth overlap. So when we were living in Australia we were referred to an orthodontist. They put a bar in between his upper molars, which, after widening every day, widened my son’s jaw. It widened his jaw so much that he could also stick his thumb in between his two front teeth. So I had to ring the bell and yes, I could stop the turning of the bar now. After half a year the device was taken out and we happened to moved to the UK.

I immediately organised a dentist to get my son to continue his orthodontic treatment. The answer was no, we had to wait another year. In the mean time all the hard work of widening his jaw was annulled. His front teeth moved back to the midline and are now overlapping again. The next year I pushed to see the orthodontist again, which we were finally allowed. The orthodontist saw him in January, photo’s were taken, prints of his teeth were made and the request for treatment was sent to the NHS in February. ‘It will take about five weeks to get a reply,’ I was told. In May I called the dental clinic to find out what was going on. ‘Oh, the NHS couldn’t make a decision as not enough information was sent and the request had to be sent in again,’ was the response. Not a happy bunny. Shouldn’t every orthodontist who hands in a treatment request know what info they need to send through? As I couldn’t find any information on the web about this Spanish orthodontist, who’s name was not mentioned on the website, nor his work and/or experience, this information was the drop for me to seek better treatment for my son.

I asked for a referral to a proper orthodontic clinic, which the dental clinic happily supplied. This surprised me a bit as they knew we were seeing their once-a-fortnight-visit-orthodontist. So we went to this more professional orthodontic clinic last Wednesday and there I heard that, because we started treatment in a foreign country, the NHS may not pay for my son’s treatment. Also, because my son was seen by another orthodontist already, this clinic may not be able to start treatment. This information was never supplied to me by the dental clinic, nor the orthodontist there. I was also requested to send all information from the Australian treatment to the orthodontic clinic. I had assumed that the dental practice would have done so when they sent the referral request, but they hadn’t. Another drop in the bucket for me not to like my dental practice.

On top of this I was told at the orthodontic clinic that my son’s teeth needed better cleaning and that his treatment (if at all possible) was deferred for another half year to accommodate this. I was furious that this was not picked up by the dentist nor the orthodontist in my dental clinic! By this time my bucket was overflowing big time.

The biggest news was that my kids can no longer have any fizzy drinks, no more carbonated water, no more sugar-free drinks (there’s me, thinking I am a good mother, giving them sugar-free stuff). And of course I have to set the example; no more coke zero for me. That’s the hardest part of parenting…

Photo from Unsplash, taken by Lesly B. Juarez

Beam me up, Scotty!

So I’m walking with my kids in Aberdeen yesterday. Whilst waiting for the traffic light to turn green for us I look at the street name plate across the road. ‘Upperkirkgate,’ it read. Kirk is the Scottish word for church, with the ‘ch’ pronounced (and written) as a ‘k’. This is very close to the Dutch word ‘kerk,’ which also means church.

Being of Dutch origin I thought I’d test my kids on their roots. I point at the name plate and ask them “what does ‘kirk’ stand for?” Without a moment’s hesitation my son says: “Captain James T. Kirk.” I thought I’d pee my pants.

What do you mean with ‘my kids have been brainwashed by my choice of TV programs?’

Why?

I did it again. I can’t stop myself, I keep doing it. Doing what this time, you ask. Being a girlie. How? Well, I was having a discussion with my DH yesterday. It’s not important about what, it’s the way I handled it. I didn’t.

What happened was the following:

DH: “It’s blue.”

Me: “No, it’s red. But… it could be purple-ish… couldn’t it?”

Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big issue, but it is.

Why? Because I was being submissive. I stated my opinion, which was on a 90 degrees angle from that of my DH’s, and then backed out, even tried to get his approval by adding the question mark. I tried to soften the blow, conform to his viewpoint. Why?

Why did I act submissive? I knew that I was right. I wasn’t brought up in a country where women need to be submissive, where women are treated as less than men. Was I? In that moment, right after I said ‘No, it’s red’ I felt aggressive, unsupportive, superior even. I instantly regretted I said it, the way I said it. Why?

Why can’t I say what I want to say? Like men do. They do, so why can’t I? Why?

Why, after all these years, do things still need to change…

Why?