Saturday, 19 July 2014

Street art in Leuven

There is more and more street art in Leuven

Much more fun art from Leuven here

Friday, 18 July 2014

A new grin

Jan all of a sudden decided to put Kabouter on top of the car instead of inside. After a bit of funny waving , he all of a sudden produced a new grin by curling up his nose....too funny

Thursday, 17 July 2014


A year ago I was stressing to ensure the baby bedroom furniture would get delivered in time as I wanted to have the bedroom ready at least a month before the scheduled due date. After all, it is quite possible and normal to deliver a baby 4 weeks early and the baby would need a place to sleep as of day 1. 

I had a colleague who had become father recently and he commented that you really didn't need much for a new baby at home. I had read a similar remark on a blog as well  "eg  the baby sleeps in our bed...". The thought to have the baby sleep in the same bed as me seemed rather strange and I disregarded it immediately. Nevertheless I realised more and more that the "first weeks" it would be practical to have a portable crib or so in our room so I wouldn't need to run around through the house when I was still breastfeeding and feeding a lot at night. I had heard in the hospital sessions that babies can drink up to 12 times "in the beginning", so then it would be better to have the baby closeby.  One of my young mother friends was sleeping on a mattras in the baby's room, but that didn't seem very much fun to do either. When I had made the baby buying list, I had seen co-sleepers but considered it as a nice-to-have but a bit expensive to consider it a must. A portable crib would just do fine for those couple of weeks.   

When we finally arrived home with Kabouter and were trying to get ourselves arranged, it seemed that a crib next to the bed wasn't the most practical yet, as pointed out by our assisting lactation specialist/midwive as well.   In the mean time I learned in online breastfeeding fora that these 8 to 12 feedings should last 6 months if you want ensure to keep up your production for a longer time. OMG, they are nuts.  And in the hospital I was told that babies should not sleep alone in a room under 6 months for prevention of sudden infant death syndrome.  While it didn't hit me entirely yet, there were more and more indicators that Kabouter would sleep a lot longer in my room than the 1-2 weeks I had anticipated before giving birth.    However in just an hour time, my midwive had arranged & installed with Jan a co-sleeping bed in our bedroom that we could rent for a while. 

It took only one first night at home to experience the value of a co-sleeper that is linked to our main bed at exactly the same height of our own matrass.

------------------------------fast forward 3 to 4 months ---------------------------------
After an initial rhythm of feeding every 3 hours,  Kabouter has settled for 2 feedings a night. I'd wish to get more sleep but I am happy to be able to just feed in my warm bed and then gently slip Kabouter back into his little crib right next to me (right away...or when I wake up 40 minutes later or so realizing that both Kabouter and I have dozed off during the feeding and were nicely napping in each other arms).  How nice not to have to get up and totally wake up.

I love watching him fall asleep and listening to his breathing. It's so peaceful and comforting and it's addicting. I can comfort him with some soft strokes on his cheek as he is just an arm's length away. In the morning he starts turning and twisting and all of a sudden his big brown eyes open and when he recognizes us, we  are treated with his biggest smile.

Of course there's the flip side that any moan, sigh or crying for cramps is also just next to my ears so I've become a very light sleeper (which also enables me to feed Kabouter before any of us are truly awake and before any crying takes place) .

People often asked me how I felt and dealt with bringing Kabouter to daycare. Since I was looking for a job at that moment we could introduce daycare very gradually with a few short days a week.  That way it didn't feel too invasive at all and I was very busy with interviews that I didn't have time to think too much about this transition.   When I started working 2 months later, bringing Kabouter to daycare wasn't a new process so it wasn't painful either. Only the duration there had increased.  So I didn't shed a tear at this milestone and wasn't too emotional about it.  But when I get these questions about day care and taking some more distance and letting go, I have to think about the co-sleeping and I dread the moment that I'll not have my little sweetheart next to me anymore, as well as the end of breastfeeding.

------------------------------fast forward until 2nd half of June  ---------------------------------

Kabouter has become very active and now stands up actively, rolls and crawls, ...:  not only during daytime but also during the night.  First we had introduced the 4th side to the co-sleeper every time he was still napping/sleeping while we were (getting) up, in order to ensure he'd not roll out into our bed and further out of there while we were absent.  But even when I was asleep next to him during the night, he started to actively pull/push me, hence waking me up and then keeping me awake as I was laying cramped in a position that would "block" his access to guard him safely within the sides of the co-sleeper. Eventually the 4th side also started to stay in between the co-sleeper and our bed during the night.    But at least he was still close and easy to sooth or feed when needed at night.

At the beginning of June he unpleasantly surprised us by standing up and leaning over the sides when he woke up in the middle of the night and watch us.  To keep him safe we had to lower his mattress to the lowest point instead of taking the "co-sleeping" principle where the crib's mattress and our's is equalized at the same side.  The co-sleeping was reduced to sleeping next to each other...which is still easier than sleeping in different rooms. But even that wasn't very optimal anymore as Kabouter was also literally growing out of the co-sleeper and had hardly the room left to twist and turn which he was doing more and more.

It became inevitable but Kabouter had to start sleeping in his own bed.  But I was not ready for that yet. Installing a new bigger bed in our room seemed not a good temporary solution either (because I somehow doubted that it would be very temporary in that case), although the idea was tempting.

In the middle of a night of yet more bumping awake, we moved him upstairs to his own room where he promptly settled for a good night sleep. The next night we tried again to have him sleep in our room but when he refused to lay down and sleep, he went up again.  And the next night he was put in his own room right away.

I felt horribly lonely and emotional. The sight of the empty co-sleeper next to me seemed so wrong and I felt the urge to see my little baby and to know how well he was sleeping.  Ironically enough Kabouter slept better and longer and didn't seem disturbed at all to spend more time in his room that he already knew from his naps.  But I was fighting tears for multiple days. My hand was on his empty little mattress. I missed him for the first time terribly during work, watching pictures of him in every break. The change to his room had somehow come unexpectedly and unplanned but seemed irreversible. I was so tempted to bring him back during Jan's travels but I rationally knew that it wouldn't work. For the first time in 18 months I was sleeping alone again: first he spent 9 months inside me, then 9 months next to me. After one week Kabouter got ill and as I worried about his high fever I put him back next to me, but it took about 2 minutes before Kabouter was standing up again, leaning over the sides and bumping and twisting   and that was the last time he was in the co-sleeper.   I tried to suck in the moment one last time when I had to bring him upstairs to his room after all so he could sleep better.  It feels like a sad goodbye. A precious time that is already gone and will not come back. I will not wake up anymore while he lays quietly with big open eyes and a smile staring at me.


We are now 2-3 weeks later and I still miss him. I never knew the sight and sound of a sleeping baby is so addictive to your own peace of mind, but it is.  I treasure the breastfeeding moments much much more now (even the remaining nightly one) and I need to hug him more often and wait a few minutes to hold him in my arms before I bring him upstairs to his bed in his own room. We also have a webcam in his room that I regularly check.

But I'm now used to it, not giving it much thought anymore when I bring him to bed. After a week, we've moved the empty co-sleeper away from next to my bed and now I am finally learning not to hop from the feet-side of the bed into my spot anymore but actually to enter/exit from the side again. I profit more from being able to bring Kabouter to bed earlier than going to bed myself and having some time left for myself. I seem to sleep deeper and longer as also Kabouter seems to sleep deeper and longer. And when being in the Ardennes where his baby bed actually is in our bedroom, I notice how easily I wake up from his noises. Gradually the advantages of not being in the same room anymore at night seem to grow over the missing feeling.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Made in Belgium: Superlijm

Superlijm (= super glue) wants to give the guitar sound of the 90ies a new live. They had some songs out since 2009 but now they have their first real album released "Unalaska, Alaska". I think they should get more airplay as I haven't heard them that much yet on the radio (well at least not conciously) even though they've been featured in several Studio Brussel's programs already. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Kabouter gets his first viola lesson

and starts playing the theme from Jaw's :D

and he got to meet our American friend Q and his wife whom we have met 4 years ago during his travels and who was staying for us for a couple of nights again.  Ha, the power of social media generated fun! 

(btw if you follow the Tour de France closely or the French news,  you might see a viola playing fan along the road....Q!!  ha, totally awesome)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Venice Beach & Santa Monica near LA

After the Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, we turned to the westcoast and arrived in LA.  As we approched, traffic picked up, the density of roads increased   and by the time we reached Pasadena, we were in traffic jams.  I hate traffic jams.  Beforehand I didn't feel very excited to go to LA and the busy traffic to arrive at our hotel didn't make it any better.  

I really didn't feel any desire to head back direction of downtown so we went to the beach to relax a bit with the view of the Pacific Ocean. First we stopped in Venice where we walked up and down along the beach, passed street artists, "green doctors" and street merchants. Quite a vibrant community of ...well a lot of weirdo's too.  

Then we headed further to Santa Monica to stroll along the nice modern street houses, explore the big pier  (why o why do they allow people to park on it as well? such a pity to have some of it as parking lot). We ended with a very delicious meal in a downtown Santa Monica restaurant.

It's over for the Belgians

Someone stated on the radio at the start of the world cup that only one team would return happy and all others would face disappointment.   Well tonight is our night of disappointment.  

Not that we didn't do great. I mean, most of us probably wouldn't have dared to bet on being among the final 8 even though it's clear we have a talented new generation now with a lot of international experience. 

And we won each game in the group phase and then showed a really offensive team against the USA.  So we were hoping....hoping for a semi-final or more. Anything can happen in the knock-out phase really.
Like an early goal from Argentinia and then an opponant that just is winning time and doesn't give any room anymore for a fun game (which is completely their right to do, really, can't blame them).   So we lost, against a team that I think we could match.  It would have been sooooooo incredibly awesome to be in the semi-finals. Wow, that would have been madness.

pff it didn't happen tonight :(.   Now I really wonder how quickly all the Belgian flags on all houses and cars will disappear. Maybe after our team is back and has been cheered to and celebrated as we are all proud of their achievement after all and I'm sure they'll get a big welcome at their return.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Yabedabedoo time in Joshua Tree National Park

Do you still need to visit Joshua Tree National Park if you've just crossed the most dense joshua tree forrest in the Mojave National Reserve?  That was the question we were pondering on the evening before.  The idea of sneaking in a simple pool relax day into our planning of the California tour we did in the first half of May was tempting. 

But I'm glad we went as in some way I found this the most fun National Park we've visited.  Probably because I couldn't get the feeling out of my head that I was walking around in Bedrock and anticipated to see the Flinstone's car on one of the parking lots.  The park is named after the Joshua Trees that grow in the Mojave desert, but I found the rock piles just as outstanding.  Additionally the park seems so accessible as you can do a loop in and out from Joshua through the park to 29PalmTrees back to Joshua in probably 2 hours if you don't stop anywhere.  So when you are in the park and you gt hungry, you just think that in an hour you can be at your hotel pool outside the park.  In between that ride there are many smaller and bigger hikes available so no need to drive long distances in between.

(ok I am omitting here the road to Cottonwoods Springs south but there were construction works there, so we did not even consider going there).

First we drove to the furthest point with the viewpoint up the mountain across the next valley with Palm Springs. Then we took some easy hikes along some huge boulders and up to a tiny dammed water pool (read puddle). 

To answer back the first question: yes the Joshua Tree population is much smaller here but the trees are much more fully grown and way more beautiful. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Pheww it's weekend

It's been a hectic week.   Kabouter was ill  (no, in the end it's not tooth # 5 that is pushing or at least not responsible for a few days of (high) fever boosts) and I had to take care of him, get doctor's appointments after work, to pharmacies on evening duty, find someone to take care of Kabouter the next working days...
all when Jan got stuck in Sweden for an extra 12 hours due to a strike of air traffic controllers in Brussels.

Yeayy it's weekend now, so I can catch up a backlog of work

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Damn you future tooth # 5

The tooth really isn't quite there yet, but is announcing itself in advance with some fever. Hopefully it passes quickly after a hopefully good night it did with previous teeth.    Fingers crossed for this poor little boy 

Monday, 23 June 2014

9 months

Dear son,

For 9 months we witnessed the growing belly and trusted the doctor's word and the gymnastics shows that were apparently going on on the inside, to belief you were a happy active developing boy.  It was an exciting period full of hope and joy. It was hard to understand and belief at what incredible speed you were changing and growing.

9 months ago we held you in our arms...our little miracle.

For 9 months now we've witnessed you developping in such a happy active boy.  It's incredible how fast you learn and change and discover.  It is so precious to be able to follow this adventure with you.  Even though we can see it happening, it is still hard to understand and belief at what incredible speed you are growing up and learning.  It's even more such an exciting period full of joy.  

I can't wait to spend the next 9 months with you and those after!