Thursday, December 20, 2007


i was working at home today, on a translation of a level of boredom (or rather boringness) as yet unachieved, when i saw these. so breathtakingly beautiful. spent next two hours feeling sorry for myself for being stuck inside in front of the computer, while others got to take lovely walks in frost-covered countryside, and take fantastic photographs to boot. sometime in the third hour i figured i could also get off my ass and take my break-deserving body out for a stroll. turns out our neighbourhood looks frosty good too...

candle snuffer

she reminds me of the Street Lighter in the Little Prince, who "turns on and off the street light that he has on his planet. Whenever he turns the light on, a new life is born, and the sun rises. Whenever he turns off the light, someone dies, and the sun sets."

last time

there she is, my sweet. on her very last day at the crèche. in the car on the way to Leiden, she was singing 'als je van beren leren kan, van slimme beren leren kan, is dat iets wat je echt proberen moet... want hoe je profiteren kan, daar weten beren veel meer van, en beren zijn als leraar beregoed!' (song of Balloo from the Jungle Book). until she stopped because she fell asleep. just like that, half-way through a line. boink went her head on her chest. you can see the print of her coat's zipper on her cheek, that's because there is a rather sharp turning roundabout five hundred metres before the crèche, and her head lolled over to the other side. she is wearing my very favourite hat (the infamous baklava, also known as 'cagoule' in one of the places i come from), and i am lapping it up because i know deep down that this is the very last winter that my will concerning hat-wearing shall prevail, and i will hereafter never see it on her again. you can't tell from the photograph, but in her hand she is clutching a shoeless, crownless (that way we can't lose them, mama!) pink barbie (i know, i know, how the f'... did that happen????). her last day at the crèche. she made herself a paper crown, distributed raisin boxes and balloons, and then stood on a chair while all the children sang for her. she was so excited, not one bit sad. so i get to be sad for her. for drives together in the morning that shall be driven no more, for time passing, for baklava hats getting lost in the cupboards of life, and little girls growing up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

the truth about christmas crafting

is that it isn't always idyllic. the day had begun badly: we had to go to the townhall to pick up an important document that was supposed to have been sent to Chile weeks ago, and in fact had been, but had failed to arrive, and now it was all really urgent, and the weather dreadfully cold, so i'd bundled us all up to the nines, Isabelle even wore her baklava hat, which is not pink and has no flowers (just to give you an indication of the direness (not a word...) of the situation), and we had to rush, i made her run all the way because i thought they were shutting at 12:00, it was 11:55, but of course they were open till 14:00, and it was crowded as hell, and equally hot, so the baby woke up, he was sweating and screaming, and the baklava girl had cheeks the colour of red balloons, and she was hanging on my coat saying 'i am tired mama, i am tired, can you carry me?' and the baby screaming so loud, i couldn't hear the grinding of my own teeth. anyway. we finally got the document, rushed off to the post office. equally busy. equally hot. waited. some wailing. some gnashing. some hanging limp. it was almost our turn when i realised i hadn't filled in the document yet. was about to start scribbling like mad, but then remembered it had to be done in BLACk pen. not blue. not pink (as kindly suggested by baklava girl). black. started begging around for black pen. entire post-office did not possess a single black pen (not even one i could buy, i was so far gone by then, i would have bought a box of 100 if they'd had them, and screw the no-buying year) (the baby was still wailing...). rushed off outside, ran to the kringloop shop next door, entire kringloop shop did not have black pen either. ran back out onto the street and straight into the extremely beautiful, extremely unapproachable mother-of-two who lives down the street. actually forgot all about terrible shyness and feeling of awe and made her empty her purse on the street in search of black pen. extremely beautiful woman now known forever and ever as the Angel-of-the-black-pen. back to the post-office. scribbled. waited. sent the document. back out into the cold. it started snowing. and blizzarding (not a word). baby stopped wailing from the shock of the cold wind, which made me think it might be a great idea (WAS i thinking??????) to run past a few shops on the way (well, sort of on the way, in any case not altogether at the other end of town) home. never made it to any shop because baby resumed wailing, having gotten over shock. came home. stumbled and fell off the stairs (only three steps). scratched my hand open with my own nail. almost threw hysterical baby out of the windoww. sat down. and decided it was time for some fun christmas crafting.

one thing. one thing off my list was going to be a success today. just this one thing would work out perfectly. exactly as i had imagined it. so we sat there crafting, the two of us (wailing baby no longer wailing but eating own hand on the floor in empty attempt at communicating ravenous hunger). both of us quiet and watchful. me trying to pacify the dragon inside. she lest the dragon spit her way. but then she forgot about the dragon, just a little. because there were pink feathers, and purple ones. 'mama, can we put those in too?'. 'of course bloody not!!!!', roared the dragon inside, 'who ever heard of pink and purple feathers on a christmas wreath???'. but i did not let the dragon speak this time. instead i ran my hand through her hair. 'of course we can, sweetie, of course we can'. picked up the hungry baby. fed it. and the day kept on its slow rolling motion beneath our feet.

an angel at my table

Antoine by night

the birthday girl... i mean princess


i managed to (almost) completely resist the cultural pressure to run around playing the role of 'gentil organisateur' at my four-year-old daughter's birthday party. yes, that is what the Dutch do, although it probably won't surprise any of you Anglo-Saxons out there, so i am leaving it to the Belgo-Franco-Russians to be shocked and stupefied at the thought. instead i invited the parents stay, let the children run around, offered cake and soup and (this is the bit where i caved...) sort of ran a mini crafting session with the wee ones, making wooden clothespin dolls (i had been dying to try it myself, which made the caving feeling ever so much more bearable...). it was fantastic: no preparatory stress. no hang-over. great soup (though i say so myself). and most importantly: the birthday girl loved it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

jungle stories

thanks to Albert Heijn and my mother-in-law we have acquired most of the Jungle Book characters. not being familiar with the movie/story, Isabelle has had to create her own. so here is Mowgli doing her yoga routine (she stole Shanti's skirt because it goes so well with her blue shirt):

and there is Kin Louie, the girly ape:

Marc: weet je wel wat 'King' betekent?
Isabelle: Ja, kijk (pointing at the ape's chin), haar kinnetje, Kin Louie!

(I know it's my fault for telling her that all main characters in all stories are girls, but i have made my peace with this fact too).

draught snake

it's been windy here (and i mean indoors), so i decided to overcome my fear of the sewing machine (i am seized by an irrational terror of that thing whenever i stop using it for longer than a few days/weeks/months) by making a bunch of draught snakes, figuring it was all straight seams and a bit of rice. my inner critic (i have been practicing giving her the floor to avoid the shouting in my ear) would like me to inform you, for honesty's sake, that not a single one of the seams is in fact straight. i have made my peace with this fact. the snakes look great and it's now distinctly less windy in the living-room (although there is a lot more rice on the floor) (did i mention that i simply hate the noise of the vacuum cleaner?) (... and my inner critic has a lot to say about this too, but unfortunately she's had her turn for tonight).


Babytje in het park
Lieve Alice,
Kom ook op mijn verjaardag en kom ook met mij samen dansen. Wil je dan ook verfen met mijn mama en wil je dan ook een tekening maken op de verf, alléén met krijtjes, liefs, Isabelle

Roze wolk, blauwe maan, groene uil

Lieve Sonia,
Kom je alsjeblieft op mijn verjaardag? Kom je vaak bij me om te kijken naar de nieuwe baby van mama of hij goed lacht naar je en of je het leuk vindt van mijn verjaardag, liefs, Isabelle

Meisje met papa en Piet

Lieve Fiep,
Kom ook naar mijn verjaardag toe om naar mama’s baby te kijken maar ga dan niet hard schreeuwen bij de baby, liefs, Isabelle


Lieve Olivier,
Wil je op mijn verjaardag komen om taart te eten en wil je dan ook met mij tekeningen maken? Liefs, Isabelle.