Saturday, 25 September 2010

Pink for grown-ups

I’m not a very girly girl. I’m no butch either but much of the girly stuff passes me by unappreciated. I can’t walk on heels all that well. I feel more comfortable in trousers than wearing a skirt. I choose green over pink any day. I don’t do frills. Etc.

That said.

Sneakers should be nice, not clunky. Trousers should fit, if possible showing that I have a nice behind and that my legs are not stumps. This summer I bought my first pink shirt in years and it looks okay. It has ribbons. (Funnily enough my mother, who for years has hoped both openly and secretly that I would show a little more girliness, didn’t like the colour on me much. It’s a strange old world.) The frills are still a no-go – except for a small thing for Japanese Hello Kitty phone straps, as long as they’re not pink.

Still, not overly girly.

Today I found myself in the Bijenkorf (Holland’s only real department store) and it was like a little trapdoor opened itself in me. It had been closed for quite some time, what with me being whale-sized for a large part of this year. I tried on shoes with heels as high as anything. I went to the lingerie department and looked at frilly (!) things. I looked at pretty jewelry, shiny stuff with beads. The only thing I skipped was the make-up department. I am pretty enough already. (Hah!)

Felt nice.
Me so womany.

Standing at the lingerie department, checking out some frilly cute bras, suddenly a man sidles up to where I’m standing. Juuust within my personal space he starts to check out the same bras. Not a likely-looking female partner in sight and something about him makes me move away. Is this how some men find girls: by approaching women who are looking at pretty underwear in the appropriate size? Ew.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


A very very short entry, not even worthy of the space it takes up. But it needs to be said.

Even though I have not been very 'hormonal' throughout my pregnancy or after and I'm pretty relaxed when it comes to people holding or taking care of my kiddies, I am now really sad that my kiddies are staying at their grandparents' house and I'm all alone. I haven't been away from them for more than three hours since they were born and now I won't see them for a whole night and most of tomorrow and that. just. sucks.

That's it. I'm sure I'll feel better. Tomorrow. When I'm holding them again.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


It's weird but true: I'm already looking forward to November. November is NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. The 'Na' (National) is a bit silly because it is now all over the globe but the idea stays the same. Participants aim to write a 50,000 words novel within the 30 days of November. Everyone who makes it to 50,000 - regardless of quality or even coherence - is declared a 'Winner'. And yep! I was a winner last year. So proud.

The idea behind NaNo for me is to get into the habit of daily writing. In order to produce the daily wordcount one really needs to focus, accept any idea that comes into one's head, and most of all one needs to silence that creepy inner critic that usually smacks dead anything in the area of fiction writing one ever does.

Not that it needs to be fiction, by the way! People on NaNo write whatever they like, sometimes not even novels but essays or whatever else strikes their fancy. This is all hearsay from the participants themselves because you don't share the actual text of the 'novel' (or whatever else) online. All you do is enter the text you have every day and the wordcount shows up. Neat stats do the rest.

The NaNo provides participants with a drive, a goal, and a way to hold themselves accountable. At least that's how I use it. Besides: it's fun! It is incredible fun to laugh at that aforementioned critic and write down the most hideous excruciating toe-curling piece of word-crap imaginable and just don't care as long as you get the number of words required for the day. Let the story tell itself, introduce a new character here and there and when the going gets tough let something silly happen, or allow the characters to say the cheesiest things, or describe the meal they are having even if it has no relation at all to the story... It doesn't matter! All we need is 1,666 words a day. Huzzah!

Can't wait.

Monday, 20 September 2010


Twins get a lot of attention. Not individually and not necessarily from their parents but as a set and as a phenomenon they make heads turn wherever they go. People on the street will peer into the carriage and sometimes even start talking to me. I don’t mind being talked to by strangers; often it is quite pleasant, especially when it is other twins parents or when people are being nice.

But oh! some of the things people say.

Particularly strange are people who tell me that having and raising twins is hard. This started during my pregnancy. When I would tell people that I was expecting twins, very often they would tell me that I was going to have a hard time. How they knew this I have no idea because most of them were parents of singletons. Probably they had a hard time with those as well, I guess. Or they know people who know people with twins and they heard it was very hard. I really don't know.

After they came into the world, the whole twins situation became of course a lot more obvious. This just means that people often just leave out the ‘congratulations’ – something that was still done during pregnancy – and immediately launch into telling me that I must be having a hard time.

I must? Well I suppose so. Only because you’re telling me though.

For me, I really feel I am the absolute last to complain about this situation. My first association with twins, even now that I have taken care of them for full two months, is that they are an absolute joy. Sure things can be difficult and frustrating but by the sound of it this is true for pretty much all new parents, no matter how many kids in one go. And yes I often think how having ‘just’ one kid must be a breeze compared to this. Still, my first thought upon seeing them or seeing other twins: how amazingly wonderful! Lucky me.

Isn’t it strange how these things make it clear that people often do not stop to wonder what exactly they are saying or asking? Even if I were to have a hard time with the kiddies, does it really help me or contribute to my life if you tell me how tough it was for your daughter/neighbour/sister/yourself when they/you had twins? Don’t you think that if having twins were such a hellish endeavour, I would already know by now? Maybe I could use some support instead of nightmare stories? (Ergo: are you telling me this to be friendly or are you just using this as an opportunity to display your own – supposed – understanding?)

Another example would be the question some people asked during and even now after the pregnancy. I mean: “Was it a natural conception?” I know that since I am ‘already’ 35 years old and they are twins, people will wonder about this. And I really, honestly don’t mind this question from friends and people of whom I know care about me. (So don’t worry if you ever did!) Yet on the other hand, doesn’t it make you think that it may be a rather intimate question to ask someone? I mean, it’s not like I ask you how your kids were made.

“On a picknick table? Really?”

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Pirate

For those of you who don't know this yet: I tend to have some strange hobbies. One of them is playing host to a plastic little pirate figurine by the name of Dread Pirate Gavroche (after a Misérables character apparently, never read it myself) who travelled across the North American mainland and the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Amsterdam to wreak havock on our shores. And other shores, since so far he has been to places as far away as South Africa (thanks to our good friend Rob), Cyprus (thank you Fiona) and Japan (... that would be me).

The Dread Pirate Gavroche has been hiding for a while these past months, making a brief appearance last February when he visited Budapest, but otherwise keeping a low profile. However now that he has found two new crew members, things may be looking up again for him.

To keep track of his adventures, the Dread Pirate Gavroche has his own blog: Be sure to visit now and then as he explores new lands and new civilizations and boldly goes where no little plastic pirate figurine has gone before!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Life is unfair

Please note: Taking care of two kiddies takes time. It is a precious thing to be doing, and of course my girls are the most beautiful girls in the whole wide world so they are very much worth it, but the time it takes to care for them is kept away from other worthy endeavours such as writing. Therefore: my apologies for the gaps between blog entries. I didn’t mean for them to happen and I will try to keep up the frequency in the future but I can’t make any promises. Life is unfair.

First things first: the girls are fine. They are growing healthy and – hopefully – happily. They have very distinctly different personalities which matches their different appearances: blonde Esmée en slightly darker-haired Lisa, but fair-skinned Lisa and red-faced Esmée. Esmée is the impatient one, going from deep sleep to indignant screams for food. Lisa is the slacker, first crying to be fed only to fall asleep half-way through the bottle. Life is unfair, for us parents.

There have been more births in my immediate surroundings and recently I have made two visits to meet their new babies. Both are now the proud mother of a daughter. Only one. And this brought me to a realisation the other day: that having twins, as well as being part of a twin, is definitely different than having or being ‘only’ one.

I only really noticed this when I saw the other mothers and their babies. All their attention was directed at the one child. Their whole world, centred around this one little creature. And this is clearly how nature intended it. These mothers are alert for every little whimper from their baby and cannot stand to let her cry for more than a few minutes, if even that.

My girls have had to share my and their papa’s attention from the day, the hour, the very second they were born. They need to wait for each other to finish eating, to have their nappy changed, to be comforted. Crying from a baby is a call for attention but for them their cry is not the only one sounding through the house. (As is emphatically shown here:

At best they take turns in calling us, at worst they seem to vie for our attention at the same time and at the top of their lungs. They are becoming increasingly aware of the world around them and therefore also of each other. This means that when one cries loudly, the other will wake up and often join in. Separate rooms is only an option at times, usually they hear each other anyway. This proximity of the other, of your sister, is something inescapable for my kiddies. This will be clearer to them as the weeks and months progress and they become even more alert.

That they sometimes cry at the same time, are hungry at the same time, need their nappies changed at the same – it doesn’t change the fact that I can only take care of one kiddie at a certain time. I have yet to master the art of simultaneous nappy-changing, for example, and although it would be possible to feed them both their bottle at the same time (I tried it!) it is really uncomfortable for all of us. Better to feed, change, comfort one while the other one waits. And cries.

There is no helping it, my kiddies’ cries often go unanswered for some time unlike those of their singleton fellow babies. And that is what I realised today. It seems a little cruel but I guess the first pearl of wisdom my girls acquire in their lives is this: life is, indeed, unfair.

PS By the way, they are not always so unhappy as the video shows. Check this one out as well to see: See? I’m not that bad as a mother. ;-)