Focusing on the good… my son!

After my depressing last post, I really do have to report on the highlight of this past week, of this past schoolyear, actually!

I absolutely love my son, but he really is a lazy sod. His secondary schooling has been a bit of a headache for us, every year he only just made it to the next grade. Here in The Netherlands you have several levels of secondary schools. The highest level is called VWO and prepares you straight for university, the second level is called HAVO and prepares you for applied sciences college/uni, the third level is called MAVO and prepares you for vocational education. Within MAVO you have a few more levels that are lower.

My son is smart enough for at least HAVO but as he’s such a lazy sod, his results didn’t get him in there, so he has been doing highest level MAVO instead, aiming to move on to HAVO afterwards. He is almost 16 and a month ago he had his last finals for the MAVO exam. This past week we heard he passed in one go, without needing to re-sit any exam! Woohooo! Quite a relief for him and for us as well! We cheered very loudly when the call came. 🙂 As is tradition in The Netherlands when kids pass their secondary school exams, the flag also went up at our house with my son’s schoolbag hanging from the pole…

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He wants to be ‘a manager’ one day, although what it is exactly he would like to manage he doesn’t know. However, he’s been very enthusiastic about a 3 year vocational college course for hotel management (we went to an open day a few months ago) and wants to go on to do that instead of going on to HAVO. The second half of the the second year and the first half of the third year he’ll have to do one or two internships, with at least one of the internships needing to be abroad. He loves the idea of that! So, at the end of August it will be hotel management college for him, in a city close to here that he can travel to easily. He’s been accepted into the bi-lingual Dutch-English program of this course, which makes him and us very happy. He’s more of a practice-oriented guy than a theoretician, so we’re really hoping this college will suit him well.

We’d promised him a PlayStation if he passes his exams (he’s been wanting one for years now). Yeah, bribes may be bad parenting, but we were getting desperate and it seems to have worked in the end… My husband ordered a PlayStation for him yesterday and it came this afternoon. It’s hooked up now. My son has been obsessed with basketball for the past year or so, he follows the NBA closely and was elated when ‘his’ team, the Golden State Warriors, won the NBA championships last week. So, we also got him an NBA game and the boy is happy!

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Boys and their deserved toys! And moms and dads have extra leverage over him for the coming 3 years… As the PlayStation is hooked up in our living room, we get to control the use of it for now. 🙂

The good, the bad & the ugly

It’s been a tough, bad week…

  • Landslide in south east Bangladesh after a cyclone, killing over 150 people!! (there are so many lives always at risk in Bangladesh because there is no money for water, storm and flood management infrastructure);
  • Republican congress staff shot at & wounded in Washington (hatred is encouraged nowadays with divisive rhetoric and when will something be done about gun laws? I don’t see how MORE people carrying concealed guns solves anything);
  • And an awful fire in the Grenfell Tower apartment building in west London (30 known dead but probably more to follow; could the reason for this deadly fire spreading so quickly be negligence by the owners?).Paper Fortune Teller

And then yesterday I met a young woman from Ivory Coast with an ugly story. She is only 19 years old, still a girl really, with not much known about her, she is very reticent. She somehow came to The Netherlands and was forced into prostitution (whether here or already back in Ivory Coast, I don’t know). She has now found refuge at a shelter and has a 2 week old baby… father unknown… She’s had little education, has only been to primary school and says she can read and write. She mentioned losing her mum some years ago and something about brothers with ‘hunger belly’ some time ago.  What awfulness has she seen in her 19 years? Why are many men’s actions so ruled by their di**s that they need to exploit and use (vulnerable) women? What future is there for this Ivory Coast girl? And for her absolutely beautiful 2 week old daughter who I got to hold for quite a while? When asked how she felt about becoming a mum she said, she was happy, “at least I am not alone anymore”. She has no idea what to do, where to go, whether she even can or will stay in The Netherlands… She is overwhelmed by life and she’s a new mum all on her own at that. The shelter she is living in is filled with young women who have stories like her’s. Needless to say, I have been preoccupied with this young woman and her tiny daughter for the past 24 hours…

With all this bad and ugliness I have put myself off writing about anything good, although I will try. There were some new Richard Armitage pics this past week that are good and that I really like (especially the one of the two bearded men, lovely smiles there!)…

… and a picture of Richard and Rhys Ifans in action during filming which is nice too. There is also a new selfie that Richard tweeted for Cybersmile’s stop cyberbullying day (an admirable goal)…

Everyone is gushing about this new selfie being so wonderful and I just keep on thinking, “what am I missing?” To me, Richard looks off in this… something about his mouth, his hint of a smile, feels very posed and not real… his face looks a little plastic too, reminds me a bit of one of those wax dolls at Madame Tussaud’s. I really love this man, but I’m just not one to gush over every image of him, I guess. Or maybe I’m just in too much of a bad and ugly nitpicking mood after this week to appreciate the good? I know we must keep on battling bad and ugly with good; I really do try that and I know Richard tries to do that with this Cybersmile thing (and no, me criticizing this image is not cyberbullying), but sometimes it all just feels so hopeless…

Cats preparing for a ball

Now, I know there are enough people out there who aren’t necessarily fond of cats…

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… but I have two and I adore them. It’s almost summer now and my two cats were enjoying our back garden this past weekend while the sun was shining. Our 12-year-old reddish-beige cat likes to sunbathe…

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… and our 3-year-old black cat later joined us, sitting pretty in the shade (she is tanned enough, after all)…

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… and then both cats progressed to some necessary grooming…

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Maybe they were preparing for a Jellicle cat ball?

As a Cats-alumnus, you should be able to appreciate that, Richard Armitage… 😉

Men & DIY

My kids were ready for a little redecoration of their rooms and my daughter wanted a new bed, which we thought was a good idea. The kids have been having a two-week holiday and my husband had more time off than me, so he has started the task at hand. My daughter wanted a light grey on her walls (my husband spent the past two days painting), she has white furniture and now she also has a new white bed. The bed needs to be assembled and that is quite a job, which is still ongoing…

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I looked in on my husband just now and suddenly I found myself giggling, thinking of a certain song! This may only be interesting to German readers out there, but there’s this German folk singer called Reinhard Mey. I think his most famous song is Über den Wolken, a song I very much like (this video also has English subtitles):

A while ago I found this other song of his on YouTube called Männer im Baumarkt. He combines his signature style serious folk tune (at the end even using his famous Über den Wolken tune) with a very comical text of men who go to DIY stores…

I wish non-German speakers could understand the lyrics as well, many universal truths in there! Seeing my husband at work, and he’s been to the DIY store a few times already this week, made me think of this song! Yep, I just laughed! Inwardly till now, that may change when my husband gets around to reading this post. 🙂