Tuesday, March 22, 2011

video games.

"Mam, there are some things you can do better and there are some things I can do better", Jip said.

"Like, I can do all video games better and you can do everything else better."

This is true, of course.

On the rare occasion I am handed Jip's nintendo, Mario always ends up walking, walking, walking, against a wall.

"Ugh", Jip will sigh, and with a flick of the thumb, Mario will jump and run again.

Now, this was a long introduction to where I am in the resettling process.

This week I felt like Mario walking walking walking against that wall.

I have heard this is not abnormal after three months.

The logistics do not run smoothly, I have been overbooking my children, constantly on the bike to a friend, from an activity - street-dancing to fencing to dutch lessons and in between the kids are killing each other at high volume in an open playing field. Somewhere in there I lost my helicopter view and I dare not go in and get it.

There is a faint smell of sewer that keeps popping up in the bathroom of our high design flat, with built in coffee machine and wine fridge, it lingers, and all the machines have been tuned to beep when they are finished with their cycle, which is never at the same time, and continuous, it seems, making me a nervous person.

My main characters are whining on paper.

But other than that, all is well, spring is in the air, which makes all that cycling very pleasant if I should take a moment to enjoy it.

Beside Justin Bieber has penetrated these walls, and has given my children hope for a better future.

I have rushed out of bed in the morning, thinking I heard one of my children moan with pain, but it was only Jip singing along to the i-pod with the headphones on.

Taking street dancing lessons is obviously part of a bigger plan.

Rosie drapes herself over the table in adoration whenever they play this video.

Do I look like him, Rosie?, Jip asks. No way, Rosie says.

And this is how we come to sing Baby, baby ,baby, all day long.

Love S1,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday afternoon and looking for nature

Dear sisters,

I am recuperating. It is Thursday, the day after Wednesday.

As we are back in Holland, the kids only have a half day at school on Wednesday. A whole afternoon of fun potential yawning in front of us, each week.

It took a little adjustment. At first, it was still very cold outside, I tried to get them to entertain themselves inside, but it is too long from midday to bed and the walls cultivate tension. They have to be let out.

So I find myself cycling around town looking for bits of nature to let the children touch the earth and gulp in some fresh(ish) air.

It is a question of resignation; the price of city living. I just wish they could go on their own sometimes.

I cycled and found some nature here.

Here was a bit.


This was good spotting.


And here.

Alright, once out there, everyone feels better.


Eagerly awaiting a house with a playground at walking distance.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

city of strangeness and light

My dear sisters and anyone else who is reading this ,
I must greet you from the valley of central Europe with a ray of hope and sunshine in my writing that spring is very near.
The earth is waking up and the air smells sweet and earthy with sun shining everywhere.
A great advantage to living in the centre of the european continent is that it does not rain so often as it does at more coastal areas.
I really do love the light here.
But the wind is cold and windy , the warm spring air is still snoozing under a winter blanket , but atleast we have passed the continental minus seventeen and are now between three and eight degrees which feels almost tropical. ( actually today it was 12 degrees and sunny )

By the way , this is a dog i met when getting the best kafe latte in town form the best cakes shop in town. It happens to be near my school which is very convenient.
I liked how the colours of the dog matched the colours of the cake shop window cake.
This cakes place is a dream in itself , its about eighty years old and the interior is kept original to the 1930's classy style. The cakes are pricey but they are miracles to look at and the taste is heavenly. I always go there when i need a boost.
Please take a look at their website Erhartova
and fall inlove instantly with these painterly masterpieces of cakes.

I am glad to announce that i survived the dancing ball this year.
As you may or may not know , it is dancing ball season from december to march in Czech republic.
This is serious business.
There are many different sorts of balls, but all of them consist of a local band playing music, a dancing platform and a tombola.( Oh and a lot of alcohol seems to be present aswell) The Hunter's ball is quite a favourite because the first prize in tombola is a living pig. Many years ago i was hanging out with a hunting group of friends and we went to this ball and won a live white rabbit with red eyes. It was huge! about the size of a medium dog and quite angry so the friends just put him in a wooden hut in the garden as a pet. Yes , those were my wild hunting days. I remember them well.
This year it was the sports ball , and the first prize of the tombola was a bicycle.
We won two bottles of white wine from that region, which is quite good wine, there are lots of vinyards in the south of moravia.
Have you never heard of czech wine ? No ?
Well, now you have.
Anyway , moving on, let me give you the setting.
The ball was held in the cultural centre of the village where my boyfriend comes from.
The cultural centre is the local gym where basketball is played now and again because they dont have enough money to make a seperate building.
I thought that was quite fitting though for a sport's ball.

Dont worry , I was quite confused too in the beginning, not quite knowing what a sport's ball was and imagining I had to turn up in jogging gear and football boots.
But no, everyone dresses to kill , suits and silk dresses , mafia shoes, complicated hairstyles, high heels.
The lighting is not the best I have ever experienced, not really what you call ambient lighting, more just very loud neon lights blazing down onto your face making you squint and want to play basketball.
Too much light can slighty damage a social event, but as I already mentioned I survived.
The band consisted of one man with moustache on the keyboard , one man on the bass guitar and two women singing. It was terrible music. They played extremely slow.
Now im not known as a party pooper and I did get up and dance a few times, trying to make the best of the situation.
In the end it was actually quite fun and my boyfriend's friends were very nice and jolly once they got a bit of magic ethanol in their blood stream. The high light of the evening was when one of his friends won a huge dustbin with the tombola.
He got into his dustbin , closed the lid; got wheeled onto the dancing platform and made a little performance of appearing out of the bin. It was quite amusing.
No really, im being serious.

Since this cultural experience I have started to look at Prague the city with even more loving eyes. But dont get me wrong, I love the special charm of villages as well, just as long as I dont have to be there longer than a few days. I love the country air and all its freshness and glowing of cheeks. As in all countries in the world there is a big difference between rural and city life. Both are full of stories and interesting people.

The other day we went with a little group of 14 friends ( normal nice friends, not hunter gang or sports gang involved) for a day trip to the countryside. We walked ten km through lush forests to a pub where the food was scrumpcious ,and the service was friendly which is a real miracle over here. There was a castle in this village but we didn't manage to visit it as we had to catch the early train back to Prague. And anyway all castles are closed in winter months in Czech republic.

So we digested the other 8km in lovely late afternoon sunshine.
Whilst walking through the gorgeous forests we sometimes passed through a little village, which consisted of one cake shop completely full ( i think all inhabitants were inside this cake shop) and special architecture for an old people's home that actually resembles a specific czech cake that is pink and yellow.

Oh and this is the tv repair shop of the vilage, I thought that was quite funny how very high tech it looked.
We managed to lose one person , which is not too bad considering the big group. Ofcourse this person didnt have his mobile phone with him, and as we were a big group we only noticed he was missing at the train station. He made a wrong turning in the forest somehow , and when he finally got to the village he reported himself to the police as a missing person and kindly asked the police to ring his girlfriend, but she was already looking for him and phoning us to ask if he was already at the train station.
Anyway, all's well that ends well.
Half of the group went back to Prague on the early train which took only two hours and the other half went back on the later train which took three hours.

Luckily we were in the early train, fully confident they would find the missing person and secretly wanting to get back to Prague as soon as possible. 18 kilometres walk is quite tiring and so is a lot of fresh air.
We were all glad to get back to the wonderful city of Prague, full of culture , civilisation and old skiing men wearing shorts !

Apparently this man is famous in Prague ( Prague is a small city ) as the always shorts wearing man , whatever the weather.
Its like this other famous man i met in Kolin ( a big town about 50 km from Prague) who is known for parading his handmade wig which resembles a squirrel on his head.
I made a painting of him in his honour. I admire his pride.

And here is a lovely picture to end my brabbles.
Take care, lots of inspiration and love,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ski ski, roadtrip

Dear sisters,

After approximately 15 years I found myself on the ski slopes again. We were on a trial skiing holiday in the French Alps. Could this become a new family tradition? Others seem to like it.

All I can say is, I am glad a holiday is not rated on the basis of the first two days.

Lost in translation, we fumbled our way through. How did all this work again? And why do we need so much stuff?

The roadtrip down started slow, Rosie asking if we were there, every thirty minutes. At eight p.m, our intended stopping time, we had not yet managed to get through the Benelux, so we drove on. The roads were empty after everyone else had retired for the night, the crumbs of our running evening-meal-sandwiches dispersed through the car, the music louder, the beat stronger.

We felt good when we got the last room at a hotel on the edge of the industrial zone in Dijon- north, at 1 am in the morning. They turned others away that were barely behind us. We were not sure if the green hue in the room was actually in the walls or came from the atmospheric lighting, but we were glad to have it.

Driving into Val d'Isere at 4 of the next afternoon, Allard accused me of not being able to map read. My defense is that we were moving, and it was the unclearest map ever presented. Also he did not listen to my instructions as he was talking too loudly, trying to prove his point.

So, with that tradition out of the way, we entered our 30 m2 abode, the smoke from the previous occupants still so thick we had to wrestle our way in. The children opened doors and cupboards trying to find more space but found none. They did find the beds tucked away behind the kitchen drawers.

That night I found myself on a mattress under a single blanket on the floor, near a drafty window, sucking in the ashtray air, wondering why I had let myself be talked into this.

The next day we traipsed past the skiing schools with reluctant children trying to book a week of lessons for them. Everything was fully booked. Lunch then? We did not have a reservation. Val d'Isere was not holding out its arms to us.

To cut it short, we found the lessons, we made a reservation at the creperie for the next day and when we left the windows open for a bit, the smokey air in our apartment drifted away. My bed on the floor had legs that folded out.

And a small space proved excellent for i-pad sing-alongs.

Morning and evening, after a day in the snow we sang to this song.

Just try getting that out of your head after a listen or two.

You are welcome to sing along. Loud now.

Oh, let's get rich and buy our parents homes in the South of France
let's get rich and give everybody nice sweaters
and teach them how to dance
let's get rich and build our house on a mountain
making everybody look like ants
from way up there, you and I, you and I, you and I,

We are available for family performances.

And the skiing? We had hoped that a bizarre genetic mutation had taken place at conception and our children would take to the slopes like naturals athletes. Unfortunately this was not the case. Rosie got demoted from the five year old starter class to the four year old starter class after day one, but was happy for it, and Jip, who was so excited to be snowboarding, felt the pressure mount daily, to make a turn. On the last day, last slope, he made four good ones and we have never seen him so pleased with himself. Both want to go back, and even I must admit that I liked to be on the skis, even with a rented egg helmet on my head.