Monthly Archives: June 2014

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wrong side of midnight

We keep staying up far too late for people whose children like the wrong side of seven in the morning. I could blame the football but that would be reductionist and dishonest.

I’ve been writing a new novel, a first draft, a rip-roaring tale that has whipped me into a frenzy. Everything and everyone have been an eensy bit neglected because I’ve been doing this:

mad cap typing

I drop Louis at school then take Elena to the playground so that I can sit there with my journal and get down the next paragraph while she stands at the top of the slide and says ‘coucou’ to me and anyone else who looks at her.

words at the playground

When she’s done, we go home and play for a little while then I give her her lunch and I write. And then I put her down for her nap, and I write. I eat my lunch and click on things I mean to read later, but instead, I write.

typing like a crazy lady

I take Elena to halte garderie, and then I write until I have to pick Louis up from school. We eat afternoon tea at the park and talk about what he ate for lunch and which kids were mean and who he loves (his choice of words is perhaps a little influenced by his using french all day). And then I coax him into going to play with the other kids. I write a bit. I look around and can’t see Louis and panic for two seconds, and then he throws a stick up in the air, it gets stuck in a tree and needs my help throwing other sticks at it in order to get it down…

cafe dates with the wee man

The last few days he’s been asking if we can go to the cafe. Unfortunately, the closest cafe makes a lousy coffee, but they know how to do Louis’ not-hot chocolate and 4.30 isn’t too early for a glass of wine. Or ice cream. Louis will do drawings and eat his not-hot chocolate off his spoon… which takes forever.

In the evenings, if there’s a french or dutch or interesting football game on, then I tend to type up all those playground words and then type-on.

writing like a machine

Yeah, 50k in 2 weeks. That’s a first.

It’s a miracle we’re not half-buried in dirty laundry, basically. The weather has been good. I’m strangely on top of Laundry. In fact, not for the first time it strikes me that I’m am most productive words-wise when I am actually pretty busy. Creativity energizes me, and busyness kicks me in the bum a bit – any minute I get to write, I write. If there’s time to spare then… no, wait, that never happens.

So, I don’t know what the magic ingredient is. Maybe a strong story. No dull bits in this one, baby. Plenty of vitamin D doesn’t hurt. The knowledge that we’ll be here for another whole year. In fact, I even know what we’re doing after that. For the first time in a long time, I can see the future (sort of). Luuk is signing on to return to Christchurch FOR CERTAIN in August of next year. Not only do I know we’ll be in France for another year but I know where we will be after that. We have been sitting on uncertainty fence for so long I forgot it was kinda uncomfortable.

Plus, we’re going on holiday in six weeks, or so, and that works a bit like a deadline. There’s more than writing to do in the meantime. We got Louis and Elena all signed on for next year for school and halte garderie. We had Louis’ school end of year do last weekend. Sunday school finished up too.

sunday school certificates

Sunday school certificates!

Elena’s nursery doesn’t wrap up for another month, but some people go on holiday in July so they’re doing things like photos now:

Elena with teachers and friends


There were options. She wasn’t smiling in any of them. But her buddy on the bottom right has moved to another city, so I picked the one with him in it. He also does a fantastic photo-grump-face. Kudos Josua.

My french class finished already (Josua’s Dad is off to play for another rugby team, and our Tutor had to go to Brazil with a whole lot of other people for something or other.) I need to get organised to sign up for classes starting in September. Inscriptions have already been and gone for some things. It’s all a bit mad here at the moment, if I’m honest.

This weekend we’re off to the Netherlands for Luuk’s family reunion. If the kids are chilled and the roads are straight (they basically are if you don’t mind the tolls) then I might be writing on the road. Perhaps I’ll finish this draft in long-hand.

Better take an extra journal.

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oopsie daisy

Category : Uncategorized

We’ve told everyone we’re moving back to NZ in September.

So, turns out, Luuk’s company here can keep him on for another year… and with pretty much the same deal. Nigh-impossible to turn down really.

We’ve known this was possible for a few weeks but until things were confirmed, couldn’t say much. Nothing is yet signed but it’s all go. Our plans have been all up in the air while we were waiting to hear, but now we can start organising a summer holiday for august, and get the kids signed up for school/halte garderie for next september.

First things first, summer! Bring it on. Don’t suppose anyone knows the L&P secret recipe…

Timing-wise one year is perfect. Louis will do two full years of maternelle here and return to NZ just a couple of months before his 5th birthday (when kiwi kids start school). Elena will be over 3 when we get back, so she’ll be off to kindy part time. Which will be a relatively painless transition from her current nursery routine.


Calvin & Hobbes - A Swift Kick In The Butt photo 19920731.gif


I’m looking at a more kick-in-the-bum french class and hope to take advantage of another writing/publishing event or two in Europe. Luuk will be properly fluent in French come next summer and Elena will be talking and bilingual. She is bilingual now, I suppose, but has a very limited vocabulary… in every language except her own special gobbledy-gook.

We won’t be rushing around quite so madly trying to make the most of every long weekend and holiday. We can have an actual holiday this summer, without thinking of all the places we don’t have time to see.

And though we miss our friends and family, it is easy to put off returning to achy-breaky Christchurch with its inflated rent prices and whatnot. It’s just one year. But maybe things will have settled down. The ratio of demolition:building might be a little less depressing.

Summer has arrived (though it’s brought some lightening and thunder with the heat). We have made a bunch of great friends in France and it will be sad to go, whenever we go, but at least we don’t have to say goodbye to everyone now.

great friends in France

Lots of good friends, though the thing with expats (not all of these are expats, but a few) is that they tend to move away. One farewell down, one more to go.

But we, for now, will stay on, with a lot fewer major changes in our immediate future (a bit of a relief, really).

So, that’s the big news. I will leave you with a musical number starring our big two year old.

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who wants to be a princess?

Not me. No thank you! Even the modern day ones (sans corsets and impractical dresses) have lives that I just could not ever possibly want. Forget wandering down to the market for a nice block of cheese and some tomatoes, and eating picnics in the park with your family.

If you put on a bit of weight you’re gonna be hounded by the media, and you’d better watch every word that passes your lips for fear of it becoming a headline and/or a foreign-affairs disaster.

People say that little girls want to be princesses, as if they’re hard-wired that way.elena's favourite jacket

Elena’s favourite coat is not the pink one. Shock horror.

That’s just rubbish. Little girls (and little boys) want to be loved and accepted by their peers and their parents and whoever else they know and love. Part of this includes wanting to look a particular way – and in most societies girls who look like princesses are more likely to be loved and accepted.

Which is just awful. But there it is. No one’s surprised. The trick to love and acceptance, if you have a vagina, is to look a particular way. A couple of people might care that you’re kind or talented or whatever, but basically, priority number one is appearance.

Though god knows what a princess looks like. Or should I say, Disney knows what a princess looks like.

disney knows

I haven’t seen frozen and I’m sure it does wonders for the whole pretty-but-useless trend. Well done, but whatever.

Why do girl heroes have to be princesses? Don’t we all agree that democracy is the goal here? It’s problematic, sure. But not as problematic as a monarchy.

I managed to explain this to a bunch of post-lunch-lethargic fourteen year-olds so it can’t be that complicated. Democracy is the goal of governments seeking to protect human rights. Monarchy, while it remains a valued, perhaps important, symbol, is not what we are aiming for.

I saw a great tweet just now:


(LOTR = Lord of the Rings. ST:TNG = Star trek: The next generation)


Nice, eh? But tea and holograms aside, I think we can all agree that power should not be used by half a dozen royals and no one else. So we can agree than little girls (and boys) probably shouldn’t be aiming to become actual monarchs.

Just powerful.

But really? People who seek power first and foremost, at least in all the stories I can think of, usually turn out to be the villains.

I’m going to get off the soap box now (partly because Elena is wearing disney princess sneakers to nursery), but I can’t be the only one baffled (and angry, yes) about this fixation.

Wearing a dress can be problematic.