Taxi driver mama

Picture this: a Wednesday in a town in The Netherlands, I have a day off from work and the rain is pouring down…

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7.30 a.m.: Mama takes pity on her daughter and tells her she’ll drive her to school so that she won’t get drenched during a bike ride that would take 20 minutes. It’s early and mama is not a morning person, so takes it easy and changes from pajama bottoms into pants that are still lying about and pulls on a sweater over her pajama top.

7.45 a.m.: Rush daughter out the door and drive her to school.

8.15 a.m.: Come back home again, find a gift from my cat outside my front door: a dead mole! Pick the mole up with a tissue and dispose of him in our green recycling bin, then time to sit for a little bit and have my Weetabix breakfast.

8.30 a.m.: Mr Esther comes downstairs, getting ready to bike to the station. First day back to the office after his operation / sick leave. Esther takes pity and offers to drive him to the train station so that he too will not get soaked. He says he can take the bus back home again in the afternoon (when time doesn’t matter, the bus schedule sucks).

9.05 a.m.: We leave home, needing a little extra time to drive to the station as the normal route is closed due to road works.

9.25 a.m.: Home again, time to relax and take in the news via print and TV.

10.10 a.m.: Son comes down for breakfast. For school he needs to do a practical assignment from 11.30 till 5 p.m. Getting there by bike, train, bus and 10 minute walk means he needs to leave in 5 minutes and he’ll never make it. He can’t afford to be late and also, I’d hate to see him arrive at that assignment all soaked. So, yes, I agree to drive him. Postpone the morning tea visit to my sister’s (where my mother is also visiting) and tell her I’ll be there around lunchtime instead. Make my way upstairs to take off pj top I’m still wearing and get freshened up and dressed properly.

10.45 a.m.: Drive my son to where he needs to be (half an hour away) but it’s pouring down and I take a wrong exit so that adds a little time to our drive time. Make it there at 11.22 a.m. which is well on time.

Noon: Arrive at my sister’s flat. Catch up with my mother, my sister and her cat. Also do the monthly chore of cutting my mother’s toenails (she has complicated toenails), eat a small ‘krentenbol’ (currant bun) with cheese, typical Dutch thing.

1.15 p.m.: Head to my daughter’s school to pick her up. She is famished (forgot to pack lunch) so on the way back home we pick up some chicken at KFC (she loves it, I think it’s so-so) and get home at 2 p.m. to eat and drink. I don’t have much chicken and especially like the corn on the cob. 🙂 Oh, and we discover a second gift from our black cat in the kitchen: another dead mole! It’s still pouring outside, apparently that makes for great mole-hunting?

2.30 p.m.: Mr Esther texts me to ask what time I’m picking up our dauighter, maybe I could pick him up while I’m already driving around with her. Tell him she’s home already as school was out early but I’ll drive extra to pick him up, so he doesn’t have to wait for the bus which takes ages to arrive and then drives a roundabout route.

3.00 p.m.: Leave home to pick up Mr Esther. Small-town after-school rush hour traffic and a blocked roadworks route, means the normally 5 minute drive takes 15 minutes. Way back is a little quicker, so home again with Mr Esther at 3.25 p.m. The man is very tired, so I tell him to go lie down.

3.40 p.m.: Drive my daughter to a therapist appointment. We get there 5 minutes before her 4 p.m. appointment. I don’t need to go in with her, so I stay in the car and read with music playing during the 45 minutes that she’s gone.

5.00 p.m.: Home again, my son texts. He’ll be at the station at 5.40 p.m. As he isn’t on his bike and needs to head for his job right away, I had already told him I would drop him off. (Job starts at 6, he needs to be there at 5.55 at the latest or he loses his shift and there is no bus that goes close to where he works and walking would take 30 minutes, which is too long). I make use of my half hour of free time to empty the dishwasher and fill it again, clean the kitchen and living room a bit. No time for grocery shopping and we’ve had KFC anyhow, so it would just be Mr Esther needing to get a warm meal, my daughter and I will figure out some sandwiches or something for the evening if we get hungry.

5.30 p.m.: It has finally stopped raining! Bundle up my daughter into the car and we both drive to the station to pick up my son. Luckily train is on time. It’s really busy with rush hour traffic but I get him to his work place with 3 minutes to spare. My daughter and I head on to a local soccer field. My daughter is thinking of taking up soccer and is doing her first trial training. We get there at 6.05 p.m., exactly at the arranged time. Apparently this is also the last training of the season, so it’s not a ‘real’ training session but a mixed (boys and girls) soccer match. My daughter (wearing black pants and a light grey sweater) gets in there and after about 20 minutes, she’s the first one to score a goal! She scores a total of 2 of her team’s 5 goals…

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The trainer likes her, she still needs to learn some technique but she plays very nicely and she’s really quick, he says. My kids are both quite athletic and Mr Esther and I always wonder who they get that from…

7.45 p.m.: Back home again. Mr Esther is up and about and just about ready to head out to get something quick for dinner. He also wants it simple, so it’s pea soup for him and me and baguette with several soft cheeses and aioli (a garlic sauce) for us and my daughter as well (she doesn’t like pea soup). Dinner at about 8.15 p.m.

9.00 p.m.: Head out to pick up my son from work. He eats something in the car and also has some leftover baguette with cheese when we get home again at 9.30 p.m.

Looking back on this very wet Wednesday, I think I would have made a killing had I been a taxi driver for the day! I’ll do it again if this man cares to grace my taxi…

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Right, it’s now close to 1 a.m. and even though it feels like my day off only started a few hours ago at 9.30 p.m., I do need to head for bed now (and back to work tomorrow). I bet I’ll be dreaming of driving…

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The London BTS weekend

My daughter and her friend are fans of the Korean pop band BTS and last weekend we were in London so the girls could go to their concert. It was stressful getting tickets a few months ago, but two tickets were secured and the girls were very excited to go. As a fangirl myself I was well able to empathize with their enthusiasm for BTS. 🙂

We flew to London from Amsterdam early on Friday morning. The girls wanted a pancakes breakfast (my daughter is the one with the ponytail)…

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… after which we boarded the plane and arrived at London Luton airport before we knew it. Took the bus to my brother’s house in Hampstead and met up with him and my niece. The weather was turning out to be gorgeous, so we had a picnic lunch in my brother’s garden!

The girls had heard that there would be some sort of BTS event at Piccadilly Circus at 6 pm, so we all went into town. We shopped a bit, then my brother and niece headed home again (my niece was leaving for the weekend to see her mum) and I went to Piccadilly Circus with the girls.  We got there just before 5.30 pm and it was crowded, as illustrated by these two tweets!

And also illustrated by my pictures:

As I can’t upload videos here, I made 3 gifs from a video I made of the crowd while we were waiting:

The fans are called “Army” (yeah, not the Armitage Army, though) and the atmosphere at Piccadilly was electric. Excited people, BTS chants, BTS singing and dancing. This tweet, while not filmed perfectly, does show you the joyful mood. It was filmed not far off from were the girls and I were standing.

Busses drove by and every time an open roof tourist bus passed, everyone started cheering and clapping and waving at the people on the bus, who were waving back at us. Someone on a bus filmed our crowd HERE and if you know where to look you can even spot me in the crowd with my sunglasses on. Anyway, at 6 pm on the dot a Hyundai commercial showed on the big screen, featuring BTS and everyone started screaming.  The girls were very pleased to see their favourites up on that huge screen.

OK, yeah, so it was much ado, apparently only about a commercial, but still it was really fun to be there. We watched the commercial on loop a few times and then left. As Wembley Stadium is on the same underground line as the station near my brother’s house, the girls on the way home decided to go on to Wembley and check out the merchandise store there before it closed at 8pm. My daughter sent me a picture of herself walking underneath the huge poster of her fave BTS member, if I recall correctly that is Jungkook…

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They bought tour t-shirts there and then came back home. Good thing they did, because the next day, on Saturday, they ventured into the city alone to find several BTS pop up stores. The one store had a  6 hour queue, the other store a 3,5 hour queue! They didn’t stand in line but did look on in amazement and also got to explore the city a bit on their own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (i.e. my brother’s house), we spent a quiet morning at home as I had come down with a bad cold. But I didn’t want to waste my whole time in London with sickness so I looked into theatre tickets (preferably matinee) for my brother and I.  I could have gone to see Hugh Jackman again as he was in London with his show for the weekend and I could have gone to see Muse do their concert on Saturday as well.  But, as tempted as I was, I’ve already seen the Hugh show (although, if I had a money-tree I would have gone to see him again) and I’m seeing Muse here in The Netherlands in a few weeks. In the end I was able so score last minute tickets to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, not far from Piccadilly. All I knew about the musical is that is has won many awards, is supposed to be funny, concerns itself with the Mormon religion and I had seen this video of the opening number…

So, on Saturday afternoon my brother and I were at the theatre, wondering what exactly was going to come our way.

… and boy, did we have a blast! I realize that the Mormon religion and Uganda, where the Mormons are sent to in the musical, are stereotyped and the language really is quite filthy at times but it was so very funny! We laughed all the way and when in the second half of the musical the Ugandan Mormons portray how they have come to understand the religion (due to very ‘creative’ missionizing from Elder Cunningham), I swear tears were running down my cheeks. It’s best not to reveal too much about this musical but if you like a spoof on taking religion literally that also doesn’t completely bash religion and is funny and uplifting, then go and watch this. I loved it.

Sunday was BTS day for the girls. My niece was back home again for a few hours before having to head back to her boardingschool, so we all went out to lunch. First time I ever ate a falafel burger, but it was good! At the end of the afternoon I accompanied the girls to Wembley, just so that I could see the venue for myself. The girls were wearing their new tour t-shirts proudly.

What I completely love about the BTS crowd is the diversity. People from all walks of life, all nationalities, all backgrounds were there, more diversity than I’ve ever seen in a pop or rock crowd. So cool! Dropped the girls off at the gate, I planned on going into the city afterwards but was feeling pretty bad so headed to my brother’s place instead. He was still out, driving his daughter to school. I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and the last scone that was still in the house…

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Switching through the channels I saw that The Battle of the Five Armies was on, so I watched that…

… then watched and chatted with my brother after he came home. We waited for the girls, who came home at around 11.30 pm, totally exhausted and totally euphoric about the concert. Near the end of the concert the fans had a surprise for BTS, where the whole crowd chanted one of their songs back at them. My daughter said that they had teared up as well at that moment…

… and they so want to see BTS in concert again. Apparently they announed they’d be coming again next year.

On Monday morning we all slept in. My brother was working from home, he took us out to lunch before we made our way to the airport again for our fliight back home. I had been less productive on my weekend due to not feeling well (and I’m still sick now, ugh!) but still had fun and the girls had a blast – the full BTS experience for them! It’s been so fun to see them fangirl. 🙂

Life’s a rollercoaster…

… which means that blogging and reading other blogs falls by the wayside somewhat. In the past few weeks I’ve been to two funerals, which always takes a lot out of me. I’m an easy crier, that doesn’t help.

The first funeral was of my sister-in-law’s brother. I knew him somewhat from family parties, he died suddenly, way too young, at only 47 years of age. It was difficult seeing my sister-in-law and brother and the parents struggle with the shock loss.

The second funeral was of the father of my new sister-in-law, the one I’d been to the Hugh Jackman show with. That funeral also really took it out of me, even though I never knew him. I went along to accompany my niece and my mother (who had met him a few times) to the funeral so that my sister could be there to support her girlfriend in her loss. The father had many similarities to my own father and so the funeral also held many parallels, from Bach music to the reading of Psalm 121 by his widow, a Psalm my dad used to read to us. I tell you, port wine and some time in front of the fireplace were very necessary to find equilibrium again…

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Also last week Mr Esther had a second operation. Last fall his gall bladder had been taken out, around New Year’s he got sick again and it turned out that not all of the gall bladder had been removed in the first operation. So, he was scheduled for surgery to have the last piece of gall bladder, which also included stones, removed. He was feeling well when he went in for the operation and that has made all the difference. In the fall he had to stay in hospital for 5 days after the operation because he’d been so sick and everything was so heavily infected. This time around he was home again 24 hours after the operation.

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Now, 6 days after the operation, he is still on pain meds for the wounds but he isn’t too uncomfortable and really healing much more quickly than last time around.

Juggling the new job (which is fun but already so much there to do!) and funerals and a sick husband (which also means more chores for me) has been very busy but luckily we’re back on track again. Today is a holiday here in The Netherlands (Ascension Day) and Mr Esther is going to attempt driving again as we visit my mother this afternoon. Tomorrow my daughter, her friend and I will fly to London for a long weekend, which should be fun!

And as I get back into the swing of things again, here’s a promo for Suits season 9, that I saw on my Twitter feed this morning:

There’s already a gif of the lovely Harvey and Donna scene in bed:

I’m so looking forward to this, to seeing #Darvey as a reality!

Anyway, more immediately, I’m looking forward to London this weekend but there’s still so much to do. Need to stop blogging now to do some laundry and get shopping for the weekend done so Mr Esther doesn’t have to carry anything and then visit my mom and then pack my bags. So, I’m off!

Glück

I’m just in time for the latest ‘Mach Was’ (‘Do Something’) challenge. The theme of the challenge this time around is “Glück”,  which translates to “luck” or “happiness”.  What to do with Glück, I thought, and then I let myself be inspired by all the joy and love in Hugh Jackman’s show. So, for me, for this challenge, I interpret Glück as what makes me most joyful in life, what I love most. You’d think when you read this blog that what makes me happy is fangirling and, while that is very true, what makes me happiest of all is without a doubt my family.

To me happiness is meeting Mr Esther and becoming a couple

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Mr Esther & I, one week into our relationship

…. and marrying him on our 7.5 year anniversary

Happiness is becoming a mother after the birth of my son in the summer of 2001…

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… and our first holiday together to France when he was 2 months old…

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Happiness is my daughter being born at the end of 2003…

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… and the first picture of me as a mother of two when my daughter was one day young..

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… and of us as a family of 4 when she was two days old…

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Happiness is still loving my family and them being the most important thing in my life, even now that the kids are growing up…

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Happiness is also my family I grew up with: my parents and my siblings…

… and the many memories I share with them, like a family trip I once described for another Mach Was challenge.

Last but not least, happiness is our two cats, they too are very much a part of our family. Here they are in pictures taken last week with a flower crown and a flower necklace, made by my son’s lovely girlfirend from little wildflowers growing in our garden…

It may be sappy but yes, I am lucky to have this happiness in my life and it’s nice to be reminded of that with this challenge. 🙂

Cool! ‘We’ win!

The Netherlands has won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fiirst time in 44 years!

The song was a bookmaker favourite to win but of course you never know whether you can trust that. We always watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year (kinda, while multi-tasking on laptops and ipads and phones). Winning, even if there are so very many iffy songs, still is a huge deal. This has been one of the better Dutch entries of the past years..

… and even though I haven’t been following all of this hullaballoo closely at all, I’ve got to admit to being stoked about a Dutch win!

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Congratulations, Duncan Laurence!