Second-hand 80s

Alex and Fiona were both singing Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F in in their shower and bath this evening. The funny thing about this is that they had probably never heard the original. They picked it up from watching Monsters vs. Aliens on DVD, in which there is a scene where the President of the USA (Stephen Colbert) tries to make contact with the aliens by playing the five note message from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He doesn’t quite manage it, so he breaks into a spontaneous rendition of Axel F instead.

Although I listen to a lot of music when I’m alone, we don’t listen to much in the family spaces around the house. The kids both have stereos on their rooms, but they don’t listen to the radio on their own. Yet they are constantly exposed to musical and cultural references in the films and TV they watch, and the games they play. I always find it fun to see how they react when I connect something they’ve just heard or seen to the “original” from twenty years ago (which itself generally has roots in a still earlier era).

In this case, their interest turned into dance. While they were still getting clean and ready for bed, I burned a selection of 80s hits onto CDs for them. The playlist opens with Axel F, of course, but there’s some Michael Jackson on there, a bit of ABC, a bit of Human League, a bit of Boomtown Rats. They eagerly stuck the discs into their players, and just minutes later Alex was breakdancing to Axel F, and Fiona had put together a short ballet to the sounds of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” I was completely enchanted.

Music is so important to me that I’m always delighted whenever they take any kind of interest in it. I need to work on getting more of it into their lives.

Categories
Family Going Dutch Personal

Going skating

Oostzaan is a very watery place. The central square lies about 60cm below sea level, and the whole village is criss-crossed with canals and waterways. It’s easier to get around on foot and by bike, because there are plenty of bridges that aren’t accessible by car.

There’s a canal that runs just behind our house, and we have been thinking about buying a small boat for messing around in. Until just a few days ago, though, the thought of walking out our back gate, crossing the road, and going skating hadn’t crossed my mind. But we have had freezing temperatures at night for the last week or so, and almost all the water around the village has a thick layer of ice. While Abi and I were out cycling on Monday, we saw a handful of people out on the ice at the skating club, but today it seemed like half of Oostzaan had their skates on.

Alex and Fiona have never been skating before. When I suggested to Alex that we go out and try it, his reaction was immediate: “No! For two reasons: one, I don’t want to injure myself. And two, I’m hibernating!”. Fiona proved more persuadable, and we took a quick trip out to the local bike shop to buy her a set of strap-on blades. (Unfortunately they didn’t have any real skates in my size – I’ll need to go out after New Year to get some.) Then I took her out and let her try them.

Normally I don’t enjoy the cold of winter much, but I’m wondering if that’s because it hasn’t been cold enough for me in recent years. I have to admit that I’m quite thrilled by this deep icy chill.

Categories
Family

1022

Fiona is 1022 days old today. This is significant because Alex was 1022 days old when Fiona was born, which means that he is exactly twice as old as his little sister today.

Alex and Fiona together

Fiona’s eyes are red and her face looks puffy because she has a terrible cold right now. Alex looks silly because…well, he is.