Monday, 27 April 2015

Gamla Stan

We were for a long weekend in Stockholm on a city trip. We enjoyed strolling around the almost car-free old city quarter "Gamla Stan" with its narrow streets and the royal palace and the island next to it with the semi-round Parliament building next to it.

The Riksdag

Kungliga Slotted, royal palace

The tiniest sculpture in Stockholm, in an inner courtyard nearby the palace, which I had not found the first time I walked by. But a second time a group with guide gave it away :).

Gamla Stan streets

Friday, 24 April 2015

His aunt has been babysitting

While I went to help out at my parents (cfr plaster) a bit, my sister was babysitting Kabouter and that has been a big success for all involved: 

Thursday, 23 April 2015


“His mouth doesn’t stop for a moment anymore”      I was told when I picked him up at the daycare.
“And the amazing thing is that they seem to understand each other…this afternoon he’s been chatting & giggling all the time with x”

Indeed, we had also noticed that there’s ever more stories, feedback and comments.  I wish I could crawl into your little head and sit there a bit, observing the activity going on.  It seems like an amazing spot to be. But I can’t crawl into your mind, so I listen to your incomprehensible ramblings.   I need to guess which feedback you are giving us with a determined look to stress the importance of your message.  You repeat it once more while pointing because we clearly don’t give the appropriate response to your story.  

“Ball,   baba,   iaaauw,  beee, neeeee, atsjiee, baby, auto, oei, ngee ngee, BUMBA!, neeee ….”   are some of the clues we get and understand and then we need to puzzle.  Our rosetta’s stone gets filled up more and more, but there is still so much to decode.  Sometimes you visibly get frustrated because we don’t understand each other, you take our hand to bring us to the correct location where you repeat your encrypted message.  Some tears are visible because I’ve wrongly assumed that your world still limited to bananas, Bumba or Hopla on tv, a ball or cars and busses outside, but I’ve missed your point.  If I repeatedly don't understand what you want, you are showing your first tantrums.

But then something happens outside the window that draws a big “WOW” and some other explanations and we watch together and tickle each other  and laugh. (and I'm relieved the crying stopped. Pheww).  Then we take a book to read together.  While we point at the pants on the picture and then to the pants we are both wearing, I wish I could crawl into your head as I can’t wait to learn more about what you are thinking.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Monday, 20 April 2015


Don't start walking with a sleeping can trip and break your foot. My mom can testify.  
And that 's not very practical to say at least as she's the prime care giver for my dad.  But she copes...while clearly not resting as much as she should. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A little smiling rascal

“Wooot woooooot”
His little train is riding endless loops on its tracks while he’s busy elsewhere. While sitting on the sofa,  I go a little bit nuts by the sound.  Since I know his understanding has grown immensely the last weeks, I give it a try.

“Kabouter, please, go and turn off your train. ….yes, turn off the train.   You go, Kabouter, turn off the train. Yes, there, the train. Turn it off”

He stands up, watches me hesitantly, then stares at the train.
“Yes, the train, turn it off please, you know how to do that”.

He shuffles a little closer and his eyes catch mine for another encouragement.

“Very good, now go and turn off your train”

He turns around, walks with determination to the racing train and pushes the green button on top…the train stops in its tracks, the house goes quiet and he turns around with a big smile of accomplishment.

“Very good, good boy, thank you very much!!” I applaud from the sofa

His eyes twinkle, his smile grows bigger and in a split second, he turns around again and pushes the green button once more. Then he runs off to the other side of the living room. 
“Wooooot woooooooooot”


He’s twisting and turning in front of the tv cupboard where the lock of one of the doors has been broken and he shakes his head.
“nooo, door has to be closed”, I confirm from a distance
“Noooooo”   he echoes

He turns around with a smile. His eyes lock into mine while he places very explicitly his hands on the cupboard door.

“Noooo, the door has to be closed” I reconfirm from a distance

He quickly opens the door a little bit, then closes it and applauds his own action.
“Closed” he echoes and nods.
He places his hands once again on the cupboard door
“Nooo, don’t open the door, stop it.”
“Noooo” he echoes and walks off to the nearby plants. 

He giggles and puts his hands on the plants and looks at me.

“Nooo, you know you should’t be playing with the plants either”
His hands shake the leaves and he laughs.
“Kabouter , NO!”
“Noooo” he echoes and he shakes his head and sends me a big smile.   


When I carry him up the stairs, he consistently starts to wrestle and move and point as he now wants to climb the stairs himself. So at the turn halfway I put him on his feet
"ok, off you go, go up"
He throws me the biggest happy smile, places his 2 hands on the next staircase ready to climb...
and then sits there on his knees, happy and chanting but not moving at all. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Bright spring day

After a good long catch-up nap previous Sunday after the streetsleep, we went out for a walk to catch some of the gorgeous weather out.  We went for a nice walk around the nearby abbey 

A swan's nest

And then it was time for the first BBQ of the season and for Kabouter to discover he can drag toys into the garden.

Friday, 17 April 2015

#Streetsleep for April 12th, International Day of the Street Child

After the build-up and had run back to home for a bit to spend a little bit of time with Kabouter before I'd leave again for my night outside.  Excellent timing as the last big shower washed the streets while I was inside.

Returning to the square, I crossed the sattelite car of the national news we had made the news before we had even started. Check :).

The first sleepers had arrived and were starting to "pimp" their cardboard tent with graffitti to give them a more 'street' feeling. Slowly the wooden pallets got filled with cardboard triangles and backpacks.

Arnoud Raskin, the founder of Mobile School, ready for a meet & greet info session.

Some volunteers volunteered to talk to the press :-)

Jan and Kabouter came to visit and check out why mommy had been away so often lately. Well, if Kabouter could talk, he'd be able to tour Jan around since he'd participated in so many meetings :p.

Jan and Arnoud Raskin watching the news broadcast about ourselves live :)...very meta huh: a picture at an event of watching news about the event :p.

Slowly the night settled. We warmed ourselves with some blankets and fire pits while we were entertained by some rappers from Leuven, a movie on street children in Kinshasa and a little concert by Willow.

By 2 AM I decided to go and try to crawl into my little tent. After a short picture session with my session I tried to curl up on the hard floor and duck inside my 2 sleeping bags which I needed both.  I tried to ignore the sounds of people around the fire pits, the last bit of busses passing by and the talks of people going to bed later on.  I think I dozed a bit between 2 and 3 but between 3 and 4 I was trying hard not to listen to all sounds, not to check the hour on my cell phone etc... After a group of late party goers came to yell a bit at our fences and were asked to leave, it finally became quiet and I was sound asleep between 4 and 7.

When I woke up, I wanted to turn around again as I wasn't fully rested yet at all. But the awareness of/ curiousity of the activity around me, made me peek outside. Right away I noticed a tv crew 2 rows further which made me crawl back deeper in my cardboard: ugh, who wants a camera is his face after sleeping a night on the street??? Not me! 

I noticed everyone still carying little blankets around and blowing little breath clouds, so it seemed much more comfortable to stay as long as possible in my little nest. But after a while my sense of duty to help a bit (and to run to the loo...let's be honest) got me up. was going to be a loooooong day. After a huge breakfast full of donated food, everyone helped cleaning up and by 10 AM the square was clean and empty again.   I felt a little emotional to see our "beds" disappear in the especially ordered garbage truck. 

We were in the news here (or in English), and here and here (yeah I didn't escape that camera) and here and here and here and here .  

So I hoped we made some impact in some making people more aware of street children through media or the experience on the street itself. And it also enriched my live volunteering for a good cause.