Tag 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 🙂

 

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.

 

 

 

Friday Fun Day!

Yay, it’s Friday! And what progress have I made this week with my edits? Not much, I’m afraid. Well, I did finish those first six chapters. Finally. Can’t wait to read something ‘new’ again.

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I must admit I have rekindled my meme addiction these last two days. I so like them. They exist on many topics and they make me laugh out loud. I must have needed that :). I sent some to my family in Holland through WhatsApp. They thought I had found a picture book of some sort. I told them that pictures with funny text are called memes over here and asked them what they were called over there. ‘Pictures with funny texts’ was the answer. Maybe I asked the wrong person.

Last week wasn’t all wasted time, though:

  • I got myself a gym membership to continue my training and did two sessions.
  • I lost another couple of kilos (mainly due to cutting sugar from my diet), only ten more to go to reach that pre-pregnancy weight (no, I didn’t give birth recently, that was fifteen years ago).
  • Took my son to the GP to get the itchy bumps on his operated toe diagnosed (very likely a fungal infection ).
  • Took my daughter to get her eyes tested (she will soon be a mini me 🙂 ).
  • I had my Grammar 101 on Tenses article published on www.onestopfiction.com. Check it out if you dare; it’s not for the faint-hearted!
  • I made some connections for the shoot AFP is planning in June.
  • Attended another Writers’ Club session at the library and explained ‘Show, don’t Tell.’

I watched some great movies and series too. Here’s the list:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 (cinema) – Best movie ever!
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (DVD) – Nice
  • Batman vs Superman (DVD) – Better than the first time
  • Ragnarok (Amazon) – Predictable, but fun
  • Listen (Amazon) – Weird and thought-provoking. Watch the ending!
  • Killer Mermaid (also known as Nymph or Mamula) (Amazon) – Nice CG
  • Lucifer (series ‘rerun’ on Amazon) – Always funny!
  • GirlBoss (Amazon) – funny, but don’t watch it with your teenagers
  • Oasis (pilot episode on Amazon) – With ‘Rob Stark.’ Can’t wait to see more
  • American Gothic (pilot episode on Amazon) – Not sure about this one…

So I haven’t been looking at memes all the time 🙂 .

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ll leave you with the best memes I found this week.

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.

Writers’ Corner update 21/09/2016

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 21/09/2016!

In my Writers’ Corner there’s an interesting article about writers being prone to procrastination, an account of how somebody dies exactly (for those describing death scenes), and I’ve added a funny with Tweets about teachers.

In my Focus on Filming magazine there is an article called ‘How to handle breasts,’ aimed at screenwriters, and a blooper reel from the Warcraft movie.

My Health Herald has two interesting articles on how to raise children/girls. Apparently you really need to push them!

Movie Review: Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Score: 8/10

– Warning: Spoiler Alert! –

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Yesterday evening we saw ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople,’ a lovely feel-good movie for the whole family. We were supposed to see it on Saturday evening, but I got the timing wrong and we showed up at the theatre an hour after the movie started. The ticket lady was so kind to give us tickets for the next day session, but I forgot it was a school day afterwards, so no sleep-in for the kids. Sorry, kids…

Anyway, the movie was great! It was so funny 🙂 . First of all because is was lovely to hear the New Zealand dialect again. They pronounce the ‘i’ as ‘e’ and the word six gets a whole different meaning… (not that it featured in this movie, LOL!). Secondly, because the people in the movie call a spade a spade. No tippy toe-ing to keep everybody happy, just calling what it is. And it is such a relief! Our society is so ‘you can’t say this’ and ‘you can’t do that,’ it’s not funny anymore. To go back to ‘real life’ is like a breath of fresh air, or like eating a peppermint chewie (which I did during the movie and hadn’t since a long time).

The story is about a boy, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), who has been dragged through ‘the system’ since he can remember. The movie starts when he is dropped off at a last foster address. If this doesn’t work the next stop will be ‘juvie,’ the juvenile detention centre. Fortunately he finally finds his place, but when disaster strikes (his foster mum, played by Rima Te Wiata, suddenly dies) he has to pair up with his unwilling foster father (Sam Neil). They disappear into the bush and a large scale manhunt ensues.

The acting is real to over-the-top. Sam Neil is of course gorgeous as the grumpy foster dad, you immediately want to hug Rima Te Wiata, and Julian Dennison doesn’t do a bad job either. The role of Rachel House as Paula, the Child welfare worker, is the one that’s over-the-top, giving her character a bit of a slapstick feel, but this makes the gloomy subject of ‘the system’ watchable for young children. The New Zealand landscape features heavily in this movie and is just gorgeous to look at, with prehistoric ferns and all. If you can’t afford to go there to enjoy it in real life, this movie will give you a good look at it from the comfort of your seat.

There is obviously a moral to the story, one that everybody should head; kids nowadays are playing up because they are just plain bored. Hopefully some good will come from people watching it. If you have kids, do take them to see it. It’s a fun movie, full of excitement and weird characters. A fun time for all!

 

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…