Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas market in Aachen

It's December = it's Christmas market time! And the Germans are the champions in Christmas markets.

For 3 years now we visit the Christmas market in Aachen. It's really not that far away (20 min detour when coming from the Ardennes, or 1h25 m from Leuven) and it's quite cosy.  Unlike Cologne it is not very huge but that doesn't matter.  
For the first time we visited on a week day and that is so much nicer than in the weekends when all the crowds (and tourist busses) arrive. This time we could gently stroll along the stalls and have a look. 

An additional reason to love the Aachener Weihnachtsmarkt, is our German dive-instructor friend who is always there with his kid's carroussel.   Kabouter recognised the carrousel as soon as we entered the square from last year and jumped up and down "ooh oooh, is the sir there again, can we go, we go there!!"
So while we had a chat about all of us not having been in Sharm El Sheikh for way too long time, while Beertje had fun catching my nose , Kabouter tried out all the vehicles on the carroussel in endless rounds :).  The fire truck and the cups were the best in the evaluation :). 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sinterklaas comes first at the grandparents

It seems to be a trend that didn't exist when I was a child, but Sinterklaas apparently passes at all grandparents and leaves already some presents for all their grandchildren. A bit confusing that you need to go do a pick-up round across the country to collect a part of your wishlist if you ask me, but of course there's no children complaining when there are presents involved.  I guess it's modern logistics for Sinterklaas to spread some of the deliveries.

So first the Piets had climbed through a left-open window at my parents and spread out in the house some candy, a mouse car and a medical kit. 

At my parent in laws, the other grandchildren had already discovered and unboxed many presents but there was still a Paw Patrol control tower left that was clearly intended for Kabouter.  Beertje was more interested in his cousins toys and had the time of his life at the activity table while all other people seemed to be busy in testing out new toys.

It was also so remarkable to see the 2 youngest cousins together again.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A new roof for Sinterklaas?!

The work is delayed as the quality of our old walls is rather sad and needs reinforcement.   But we are lucky with the dry freezing weather that continues and new structures are rising...  Sinterklaas should be able to ride his horse across our roof (beams) next Monday night if all goes well

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kabouter conversations - November 2016

  • We are raking the leaves in the garden together and Kabouter is whining that his boots are short and mine come at knee length.
    K: "Ik wil ook die!"
    G: "Ja maar nu heb je al mooie laarsjes eh. Maar als je gegroeid bent en deze zijn te klein, zullen we er ook hogere kopen."
    K: "Ja dan moeten mijn benen langer zijn!"

  • Kabouter is eating a self-baked muffing when I need to get something in the neighbour pharmacy.  Kabouter loves to go to the pharmacy as he gets vitamine C candies.
    G: "Oh , je ben je cakeje aan het eten, nu kan je geen vitamientjes nemen."
    Kabouter stares at me confused/thinking
    K: "Maar ik heb toch 2 handjes?"

  • "De saus is stout!"   after he dipped his chips in a spicy dip

  • "Dan wordt het kapot!"  when he tells his little brother not to lean on his toy garage

  • "We gaan eerst om Beertje en dan gaan we beetje rondrijden" (I told him we'd have to search for a parking spot)

  • K : "Dat moeten we ook vragen aan Sinterklaas!  En dit! En dat ook ! En dit aan Sinterklaas! En dat. Dat ook eh! En dat. Dat ook, en dat! Dat wil ik ook van Sinterklaas! ....."
    G: "Denk je dat Sinterklaas dat allemaal kan brengen als je zoveel dingen vraagt?"
    K: "Hij heeft toch 2 handjes??"

  • K:" Die melk is koud!!!!" (whining)
    G: "Ja die komt uit koelkast"
    K: "En ook uit de koe!"
    (can't argue with that)

  • "Dat mag jij niet eten Kleintje" (he talks to his brother....very confronting when he copies my words)

  • "Later als ik groot ben...ja op zaterdag, dan dan dan ga ik werken in de winkel"

  • G: "Ga je mama een beetje helpen opruimen?"
    K: "Straks....donderdag! Ja donderdag ga ik helpen."

  • K: "Het is al donker! Wij gaan dan slapen eh. Straks! Straks gaan we slapen. als het zaterdag is." (he announced that on Monday)

  • K: "Is het nu woensdag?"
    G: "Nee het is maandag"
    K: "Hoe komt dat?"

    (did you notice, he's constantly experimenting with the days of the week?)

  • "Kijk, muurtrapjes!"  (In Amsterdam, pointing at the doorsteps of a house)

  • "Ik krijg een beetje honger van de dierentuin."

  • "Dit is dan een echte vakantie eh, zo met die palmbomen."  

  • G: "Wat wil jij later worden als je groot wordt?"
    K: "Een paard! Euh nee, een dinosaurus en dan ga ik Whaaarrrl doen."

  • "De leeuwen waren samali aan het eten! Of Heps."  (the lions in the zoo were eating on a huge piece of meat)

  • J: "Staat de stelling nog voor ons huis?"
    K: "Nee, die is weg."
    J: "Oh waar is die dan?"
    K: "Die is achter."
    J: "Wie heeft dat dan gedaan?"
    K: "Die mannen met vuile schoenen."

  • "Jij moet mij helpen. Mijn handen zijn kapot."
    "Jij moet mij dragen, mijn voeten zijn kapot."

  • "Daar zit een kusje in!"
    (he noticed at his grandparents's home the card he made in class and sent.  There's a print of his lips on the inside)

  • "Een banaan is ook een beetje een bruggetje eh?"

  • "Papa, papaaaaa, papa, ik ben onder uw stoel gekruipt met mijn benen."  (oh I adore his language mistakes. It is so tempting never to correct him)

  • "Ik ben Kabouter [family name].   Papa is ook [ family name], eh?  En Beertje is een klein beetje [ family name], eh? (just a little bit apparently :D)

  • He arrives downstairs the morning after we've put his shoe for Sinterklaas a first time.  Due to workers in our home we moved the concerned shoe away from the fireplace and put it with some candy on the table.
    G: "Oh waar is je schoen naartoe? Je schoen is weg. Heeft Sinterklaas je schoen mee?"
    K: [gasps]
    G: "Wat is er gebeurd?"

  • K: "Mamaaaa, maar ik wil iets anders"
    G: "Wat wil je dan?"
    K: "Dat weet ik niet? Jij moet dat zeggen"

    K: "Ik wil iets anders."
    G: "Wat wil je?"
    K: "Kriebeltjes!"

  • "Maar ik wil niet in bad. Maar ik stink niet!
    (5 min later when he sees the filled foamy bath and Jan goes in)
    G: "Ok jij mag kijken, je hoeft niet in bad hoor als je dat niet wil"
    K: "Maar ik stink wel!!"

  • "Ik ben al een beetje groot eh? Maar ik wil nog heel hoog worden zoals jou papa en ook mama"

  • Ik ga even naar het toilet. Dan heb ik wel weer plek in mijn buikje voor 2 snoepjes.

  • "Jaaaaaaaa het is gelukt!!" (sudden announcement after stirring in his chocolate milk for a very long time)

  • "Da's van mama's en papa's eh?" ( after they announced "Daydream" on the radio from The Mama's and the Papa's. ...kids hear everything)

  • "Kijk de K van Ketnet"

    Die is van jou eh!    (he recognises in the huge name on a big commercial chain a letter which is in my name. He has a great interest in letters and numbers and constantly asks which letter belongs to which names of people he knows.  He now consistently recognises the first letter of my name and his name :)  )

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Refuge in the Ardennes

While we were roofless in Leuven,
while Beertje was recovering from a bronchitis and an ear infection,
while I was recovering from some sort of zombie mode due to many sleepless nights,

I took some days off (quite ironic after 2 extended weekends already, no?) and took the children to go and rest in the Ardennes. It was my intention to spend some days on the sofa with a book or tv, but that's hard to achieve with 2 little children.  First of all, they are arrive full of energy each time we arrive over there, as they've just had a really good long nap in the car when I couldn't nap (dugh obviously).

While I didn't want to venture out with Beertje yet in the freezing cold, I found it challenging to keep Kabouter occupied all day in the house.  He seems to get quickly bored by something.
The 2nd day was better as we went for grocery shopping together, I had Kabouter help me a bit in the kitchen and we went for a freezing 30 minute walk where both kids returned asleep. Woohoo, peace & quiet ....and I noticed I didn't feel that need to nap so strongly anymore.  Slowly I started to catch up sleep again. On the 3rd day we all slept in and time started speeding up.

Those 3 days reenergized me in the way I really really needed it, but I was glad to return to our (still roofless) home and to Jan to get some adult conversations again. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Count your blessings - November 2016

  1. A commute through the woods and along quiet fields with rolling hills with pheasants observing quietly the passing traffic.
  2. A little red pompon and a giant blue jacket with tiny legs underneath, running around in the park
  3. A little body crawling against yours, leaning in when you start to read a story, a small hand on your lap.  A voice that finishes your sentences of the lines we've read so often before
  4. A baby that drinks at your chest, ...pauzes...looks up and says "Mama" with a smile...and then eagerly continues to drink. 
  5. Baking cookies with a toddler
  6. A toddler that seems to sleep deeply at night, not getting disturbed when the rest of us go to bed later on or when his baby brother protests/whines at night , now that we are forced to all share 1 bedroom due to renovations.  (at least for as long as his baby brother didn't get ill)
  7. Listening to 3 men/boys breathing peacefully asleep in your bedroom    
  8. Plumbers that manage to move a heating system with less disruption that initially planned and communicated
  9. Colleagues (all with small children) who smile understandingly "we know what it's like", when you arrive late in your first morning meeting.
  10. A week of predicted dry weather to end the renovating waiting game and to make things happen
  11. Our little spot in the Ardennes to retreat to 
  12. Antibiotics that change your miserable sick baby into a smiling baby full of mischief and initiative again
  13. Internet tv that can be streamed to your big screen when the satelite is out

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blue sky

The waiting for a predicted week of dry weather is over...let's now hope the prediction was correct and that the possible small amount of rain on Thursday & Friday is negligible.  And let's hope the works go allright.

I'm surprised that we managed to keep a good comfort level on the 2 floors that we are still using, although the gas usage will surely be a lot higher this month.

Nevertheless I took both children and we are now recovering from illnesses and lack of sleep in the Ardennes while enjoying the roof over here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Our new cleaning help

Apparently Kabouter had a student teacher is his class and they worked on the theme of "cleaning". At the end of the week he came home with a cleaning diploma.  We were joking whether he'd help us clean now. "Where is my kid's broom" he answered?


Ok, it's just a word boy.  So Jan shopped downtown with him today and they came home with a kid's cleaning set. He was very proud to show it and immediately got going.
The results needed some adjustment but it was so cute to watch him :D.  What a sweet heart.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tough day

Beertje has had a cold for a while now but I noticed it had worsened last week.  I had been working long days myself.

On Thursday I checked his fever and it was ok but at night I noticed he was glowing. I got up to go and search for some medication but I didn't dare to wake him up yet.  He got more and more restless and a bit later I was giving him medication. Unfortunately a coughing attack later, I could change his clothes, mine and mop the floor.  He was very miserable and I couldn't get him back to sleep anymore.  In order to prevent Kabouter from waking up, we moved down to the sofa for most of the night.

In the morning it was clear that Beertje couldn't go to daycare and I was way to tired to work. I booked a doctor's appointment, mailed work that I'd take a day off.

Kabouter was tired and cold and I had to practically drag him to school for the very first time.

It took a long waiting time at the doctor's office.  Beertje slept through it at a moment I couldn't join him in a nap.
The verdict was a bronchitis for Beertje.

I put soup in the microwave, turned and turned wondering why I was in the kitchen.  "Soup" said Jan.  I took the bowl out again and started to eat in order to realise I had not heated the soup yet.

Beertje and I went to nap but he was snoring and breathing so heavily (and only wanted to sleep in my arms) that he was keeping me awake.   Right when I had dozed off as well, some technician rang the front door bell for the appointment to fix our fire place...no more nap

I decided to go to the city hall to pick up our new identity cards that should have arrived.  I realised after a short while that I was waiting in the wrong waiting hall. When arrived at the right desk, I noticed I had no longer the digital codes that I was supposed to bring on me: those had dropped out of my purse at home before I left. So I had to return home without success.
I wanted to rush back by taking the bus and in my fatigue waze, I jumped on the wrong one.

Traffic in Leuven had just come to a complete standstill due to an accident on the nearby highway and a late night shopping event with road closures downtown. So the bus had to take a detour and I was stuck for 20 min before I arrived at the first stop where I could get off and try to find the correct bus home.  In the end I simply walked. At one point I had tears in my eyes.

I recovered myself a bit during the evening but I was glad to be able to go to bed and hope that Beertje would allow us some more sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Baking biscuits

A big storm was predicted: rain, heavy wind gusts, ... Parks were closed and warnings were issued. The perfect day to cocoon at home.  Instead of walking to the weekly market, our neighbour came over for coffee and the kids were playing together.

Afterwards I promised Kabouter to bake biscuits together. I had planned to do this already a long time on a bad weather day and I had ensured Friday I had sufficient ingredients at home to make it happen this weekend.   Kabouter was quite eager to get started and was running around making an inventory of what we needed " mom, we need 2 spoons...and also a bowl,   ...do we need this plate?"

I especially needed the recipe as I had never....(I'll enter a pause here to grasp that confession) ....baked biscuits or cakes or anything before in my life.  A tiny bit scary, but I asked some supervision from Jan to ensure I started off with a well kneaded dough.

And then our fun could start: rolling out the dough and cutting our little star and car forms  and decorating our cookies. Easy and fun, to repeat in the future :).