Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Waiting Game

...So we're all packed, ready to leave for the airport later this evening (late flight at 11pm). Just before we ducked out to Newton Circus for a last nosh of satay and fried rice, I had a feeling I ought to check our departure time in case anything has changed. I NEVER do this normally, in the past I've used the Changi airport site only for checking whether our visitors are arriving on time.
Shock horror, our flight has been moved from 10:55 pm to 04:50! That's tomorrow morning!
So now it's going to be either a very long sleepless night as I toss and turn stewing in fear that I sleep through the alarm at 2:30 am, or a very short night when I won't even bother going to bed.
Bugger bugger bugger. Dragging the kids out of their nests at 2:30 am isn't going to be much fun either.
However it all pans out you'll all get to hear about it later, when I log on in Holland from someone's computer. Either way you can be sure that my already lowly opinion of KLM is not going to be improved.

See you on the flip side. Jetlag, here we come.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beautiful Ladies

It seems that our youngest son has developed a bit of a thing for Asian ladies since we moved to Singapore. Actually he's always been a ladies man, charming them with his smile from a young age and preferring to snuggle up to a (preferably well-endowed) bosom rather than tag along with the guys.

The delight on his face when he arrived at pre-school four days a week was a picture; ignoring the blonde Dutch staff he would rush up to Sarah, his beloved Singaporean teacher, and give her a big cuddle. Every single day without fail he would tell her that something about her was beautiful; from "you've got beautiful toe nails today" to "you've got beautiful hair". During our weekly visits to the large Maplewoods condominium for Niels swimming lessons he would home in on a group of Philippino maids clustered around the pool and plop himself in the middle, which would without fail dissolve into giggles and he would bathe in the glow of admiration and head pats his cubby blonde smiling face would generate.
Our wonderful babysitter Fe has become known as "my Fe", the staff at our holiday villa in Bali were wrapped around his pinky within 24 hours, and even the Asian Mums of some of his class mates are the target of his ample affections. However his all-time favourite Asian Ladies would have to be the air hostesses on board the Singapore Airlines planes. Of course they are lovely, with their long traditional batik dresses and slim figures, perfect make up and shiny black hair. To Carl, they are perfection personified and on our recent trip to New Zealand it was all he could do to remain sitting until the 'fasten seat belt' sign was turned off before he scooted out of his chair, yelling over his shoulder "I'm going to talk to the beautiful ladies" as he disappeared in the direction of the pantry. Fifteen minutes later he reappeared with pink cheeks and a handful of cookies. Half an hour later this was repeated, and so the flight progressed. On one occassion he reappeared just moments after he'd left; when I asked him why he replied dismissively "there's only guys back there now" before focusing his attention on the tv screen. As dinner was served one particularly pretty hostess gave him a big wink and a grin - Carl turned to me and whispered dramatically "that's the one I kissed".

Somehow I don't think it's just cookies he's after.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Birthdays? Nothing To 'Em!

There are many good things about getting older. Speaking strictly from my personal experience it seems that surviving your crazy teens and reckless twenties frees you up to enjoy your thirties and everything after that with a wealth of wisdom and, well, wealth, that you just didn't have back then. Your confidence is better, self esteem higher, sex more passionate, joke repertoire fuller. You've traded the tequila slammers for Tanqueray and tonic, Maybelline for Dior and finally start to reap the benefits of slapping on sun block for all those years. Ok, the face is starting to show a few wrinkles but by now I know my PHA from my Pro Vit B5 extracts and frankly the new range of serums are better than botox. And as for later...well there's always going to be Botox, isn't there?

Making it into my thirties relatively intact means that my kids are now toilet trained, so although occasionally one of their rooms may look like a vomi-bomb has just exploded (see yesterdays post), I no longer have to deal with someone else's poo on a daily basis. They can both run around so even if my back aches sometimes, at least I don't have to carry them any more. Having survived the first tough years of motherhood I also don't feel guilty about indulging in a weekly massage from my favourite masseur Grace, who can produce diamonds from lumps of coal using only the fingers of her left hand. In your thirties it's perfectly normal to have a handbag for every occasion, as well as several that may look identical to the untrained eye but are each essential wardrobe items and indispensible in their own way. And while I could tell the scantily clad 20 year olds hanging out on Orchard Road that the line between looking like a sexy siren or a slut can be defined within a few heavy handed applications of black eye make up, they'll find out themselves in a few years and think back "if I only I knew then what I know now...".

By your thirties you have the fortitude to say no to a job offer, something unthinkable in your twenties; you have good friends you can turn to for advice; and most importantly you have a life partner with whom you can make the tough decisions and look back and see how previous choices have worked out. And on days like your birthday, not only do they know your favourite brands, they have the means to splurge on you a little and make things like jet lag totally disappear for a few hours.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back To Reality

It's an overcast morning in Singapore and as I write this, at 9:04 am, I'm trying to convince my eyelids to stay up and my brain to function through a fog of jet lag and sleep deprivation. The boys and I flew back from New Zealand yesterday, after a short week-long visit to see my grandmother (hi Nana!) before we head back to the Netherlands shortly.The first day back is always a strange day filled with feelings of displacement; it's hard to fully focus on life hear when half of your brain (and all of your internal body clock) is still focused over there.

People are often very sympathetic when they hear the boys and I are off to fly somewhere without their Dad - visions of nightmarish global treks with two screaming kids wrecking havoc on a plane filled with cursing vengeful passengers simmer just below the surface. But actually it's not that bad. I've flown 'solo' with them quite a few times; Niels first trip abroad was an oestrogen-charged trip to New York with three girlfriends when he was just five months old. Think Sex In The City with more boobs (that was me breastfeeding) and no sex. It was a great trip which Niels sadly remembers nothing of. One of my favourite memories is all five of us falling asleep on the grass in Central Park, thoroughly worn out by fun and one little baby.

Admittedly yesterdays trip had its trials. There's the old chestnut of who gets to sit by the window, how to stop a kid kicking the chair in front when their legs don't reach the foot rest so naturally just swing back and forwards, and the endless, constant, never ending retrieval of toys dropped on the floor into that dark fetid place between the life jackets which smells of feet and impending doom. Somehow growling "get it yourself" doesn't sound threatening over the roar of a 747's jet engines.

As for the kids meals, don't even get me started! Lunch turned up with a large roll of wine gum sweets, a chocolate pudding, and a bar of chocolate. Dinner was accompanied by a mini Mars bar and a Twix bar, plus the obligatory pudding. Hello, doesn't anyone planning airline meals know the effect of filling kids up with sugar then asking them to sit still for an 11 hour flight?? It's a wonder they didn't burst out of the plane like Coca Cola from a shaken can by the time we landed. At least it wasn't as bad as the last time we flew to Holland on KLM, one of the worst airlines we fly on; the kids meal was a full size Mars bar, a limp sandwich, and hot soup!!

We finally landed last night and the kids bounced up to the Dad full of enthusiasm and sugar, then bounced to the car and finally settled down enough at about 8 pm to go to bed, the equivalent of midnight New Zealand time. I had long before given up the ghost and could do no more than offer a quick kiss and unintelligible grunts as I unpacked my suitcase (which had miraculously gone from 15 kg when we left to about 25 when we returned). I made it to 10:30 before chucking in the towel, giving the bunnies a last smooch then heading off for bed.
To bed, but alas, not to sleep. First Carl needed to go to the toilet, an activity requiring an audience of at least 1. Then the bedroom door burst open and in stumbled Niels, covered head to toe in what turned out to be vomit. Holger dealt with him in the shower (coward!) while I went to change his sheets and discovered the entire room had been covered in dark purple stinky puke. His sheets. The mattress. The pillow. The floor. His beautiful pirate rug. The bottoms of my feet.The bathroom floor. The bathroom door. The door frame. The bathroom wall. In fact everywhere except in the toilet.

It took us a good half hour of intense wiping and mopping to clean it all up, while he sat pale and exhausted on a stool next to the loo, occasionally retching into it. Finally it all seemed to be over. We packed him back into a freshly made bed, hoped the air con would scrub the smell of puke out of the air by morning and headed back to bed.

At 4 am both boys were wide awake and wanting to play (of course!). At 5 am hubby gave up and went to sleep on the couch so that when the boys came into our room every quarter hour, at least they wouldn't disturb him. At 7.30 he left for work and here I am, tired, jet lagged, with hands that still smell vaguely of puke. Just got a text from my cleaner saying she can't come today sorry, hope it's not inconvenient!

Oh...and it's my birthday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tropical? No, But Paradise? Maybe

This is beaming into your pc from sunny New Zealand, where the temperatures have plummeted and the boys can only sleep at nights with electric blankets, two teddy bears and a large warm Mummy in their bed. Yes, it's cold, but then again, it's still beautiful and well, it's winter afterall. The days are brilliant blue, the ocean is crisp and sparkly and even in winter the grass is lush and green and some plants are flowering. It's like a diet version of the coldest season: Winter Lite.
Bay of Plenty residents are still in shock after a large snowfall on the Kaimai ranges last weekend; this in a region where they don't even build heating into homes! After 34 degree days in Singapore it was a shock to the system to say the least. Fortunately my sisters rushed to the rescue with polypropalene lcothes, spare jackets, and one even gave me her hot pink warm fluffy pyjamas to wear. We hadn't planned to visit NZ but an ill family member was a good reason to see us jetting across the Pacific for a hasty week long stay. Hubby is left holding the fort, feeding the bunnies, and manning the phone as we are trying to get rid of our furniture in preparation for our upcoming exit from Singapore. At least he has the bunnies for company.