Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lucky 13

Today is our wedding anniversary...13 years and counting. It's hard to believe the time has passed so quickly, and when I look at these photos we just seem so...well...young is the right word I guess! We were married in Vorden castle, with Holger and I travelling there in a carriage drawn by two beautiful Fresian horses. It was a gorgeous day; the fennel was blooming in clouds of tiny white blossom along the roadsides and as we clip-clopped through the forest on the way to the ceremony we felt like the only people in the world. Nervous, jittery, but so excited! After the ceremony, as we rode back through the woods the journey seemed so peaceful. Returning in the spring sunshine as man and wife, anything seemed possible and we felt very different to the people we had been just an hour before.

A lot has happened in those years of course, and we grew from a fresh faced couple to a family of four, moving away from Holland to Singapore and back again, changing jobs, buying a house, building up a life and home on the foundations of this one happy day. A lot of people think that there is no point in getting married any more, that if you're living together a marriage is just an expensive party and a piece of paper that doesn't make any real difference. However Holger and I feel completely differently about it. For us, getting married was the first step to building a life together, an opening chapter on 'us forever' rather than 'us until whenever'.

We may be a little older now, the wedding clothes may not fit quite as well and the faces are a little more lived in. But what we started that spring day has carried on and grown like a snow ball rolled across the ground and wherever we end up, we will look back and know that this is where it really began.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy 9th Birthday Niels

The face says it all... It's hard to believe Number 1 is already nine. Next Saturday he parties with 8 of his friends in celebration, today was a family get together and, of course, presents!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tabitha Spring Silk Fair; Mark Your Diaries!

For those of you lucky enough to still be living in the steamy tropical shopping paradise that is Singapore, a highlight of your annual calendar is about to take place: the Tabitha Silk Fair. This is a fantastic event where you get the chance to purchase outstanding silk clothes, bags, home furnishings, etc for truly excellent prices, and all in the name of a good cause. Ladies, need I say more? I've blogged about this event before here if you want to see some photos.
As usual the fair will take place at The Shophouse, at 22 Lock Road in Gillman village. This year valet parking is available but in my opinion taxis are the best way to get to this location. You'll be so dazzled by the brilliant rainbow array of silks on offer who could possibly focus on driving afterwards! On Tuesday and Wedensday 11-12 May the Fair runs from 9am to 6pm, and on Thursday the 13th from 9 to 1pm.

On the Wednesday evening you can also attend a ticketed event to meet the Foundation Founder, Janne Riskes to hear her inspiring story and learn about the hundreds Cambodian of women and children helped every year by this wonderful organisation.

Check out the website Tabitha Singapore for full information, and take your credit card! Over 95% of the proceeds go directly to helping Cambodian families to earn a living and become self-sufficient.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Brushing up My Language Skills

I've recently taken up doing crossword puzzles again. I've always loved doing crosswords, a passion no doubt insired by my Mum who is a crossword fiend and still is rarely undefeated. We've passed many an hour bandying clues backwards and forwards, filling in puzzles at home, on holiday, or wherever we happened to be.
At university when I shared a house with friends there was a friendly competitiveness to see who could finish the New Zealand Herald crossword first. While Sudoku can be fun to pass the time I'm really a word fan; I love that light-bulb moment when you suddenly find the one missing word that makes the whole puzzle fall together.
However since moving to Holland I haven't often indulged my penchant for puzzles, mainly due to a lack of English language ones in the stores. Take my word for it; as a native English speaker, doing crosswords in Dutch sucks almost as much as playing Dutch Scrabble. Just what are you supposed to do with all those w's and v's?
However I've been digging out puzzle books left over from Singapore lately in an effort to sharpen up my English a bit. Being editor of an English language magazine demands a certain proficiency in the language and lately I've had the feeling my vocabularly has reverted to that of an 8 year old.
It doesn't help that hubby speaks such good English; whenever he's home he will be in the middle of saying something then suddenly demand; what's the English word for fakkeloptocht, or gemeentebestuursleden, or grondwerktuigkundige. And he means RIGHT NOW, as in this second so he can drop it into the conversation. It's almost impossible to suddenly come up with the exact word or phrase on the spot and my feeble attempts have so often been met with snorts of derision that over the years my standard response has become "dunno". And I'm supposed to be the wordy one.
Lately I have the feeling that having to speak a different language most of the time is taking it's toll on my English. At work I have moments where I'm staring blankly at the screen trying to figures out a better alternative to a word I'm over-using in an article. My pet hate is 'increasingly'. As in: it's increasingly obviously that my language difficulties are becoming increasingly apparent to an increasingly large number of readers. See what I mean?
And now the kids have started. "Mum, what's the Dutch word for a Hun? What are hunnenbedden in English? And are the two related? Why are Egyptian and Egyptisch spelt differently?? And if February in English is spelt februari in Dutch, why is a leap year a schrikkeljaar and how do you spell it?"
Honestly, it's starting to do my head in. A while ago when Carl discovered the singular of boobies was boob he thought it was hysterical. He and Niels ran around the house for days springing out of doorways and surprising each other with yells of "you're a BOOB!" followed by shrieks of laughter. Hopefully the neighbours won't understand what that was all about.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Generation Gap

My kids consider me to be an impossibly cruel, uncaring and dysfunctional mother for one sole reason: I refuse to buy them a Play Station. Neither do they have a Ninentendo DS or a Wii or any similar machines designed to suck out their brains and turn them into couch dwelling zombies. How often has Carl whined "but my friend xxxxxx has one! And his Mum lets him do ANYTHING!"
Do I think I'm a better parent because I won't buy them one of these toys? No, I don't. But I do believe that my particular kids - those incredibly active bouncy little boys who sometimes seem to be composed of dynamite, amphetamines and adrenalin bound together with a hefty dose of testosterone - are a lot better off without a Play Station.
However none of us lives in a vacuum and as a type of compromise I have bought the boys two plug-and-play games you connect straight to the t.v. The first is from Pixar and has four very cute and entertaining (the kids would translate this as BORING!!!!) games based on Toy Story and other kids movies. The other has a whole bunch of different games, all fairly low resolution and frankly kind of retro. Fortunately it doesn't have the high tech programing or graphic gore that seems to be chronically addictive and they don't get it out very often.
Yesterday it was pouring with rain and we were all a bit stuck for someting to do, so we sat down to play with this game. I've never bothered before because frankly gaming just doesn't interest me. So we were sitting there and as Carl scrolled through the menu I saw a space game. Suddenly I had a flashback to my own childhood; "hey, a Space Invaders game!"
They looked at me with blank stares and I realised with shock that there probably have been GENERATIONS of kids born who haven't heard that term. Anyway I sat down next to Carl and had a turn at the controls. Ten minutes later I was five levels up and my thumbs were starting to ache, but this was the most fun I'd had on a computer for ages. Niels was watching silently and when I finally gave up, rsi setting in to both hands, he nodded and looked impressed, then totally popped my bubble by adding "mmmmmm, not bad for a 39 year old mother."