Saturday, July 30, 2016

Golden wedding anniversary







50 years ago my parents tied the nod.
5 decades they are standing side by side, sharing their better and worse days.
Over 4 decades they've loved their 2 daughters and extended family
All that time they set us an example of love and partnership, which is a privilege to us.


Several months ago my sister and I had discussed this anniversary and brainstormed how it could be celebrated given that age and illness would exclude several potential activities. However we had never imagined we'd be going through the current worries. Some blocked weekends in our agenda passed by and although we didn't want to let it go by just like that  - it's a golden wedding anniversary after all !! -  we thought we'd better postpone until the future was a bit more clear to know which fun family activity could celebrate this occasion together.

Fairly last minute both my sister and I realised we really could not postpone.  We could not just let this day happen with my mom's daily visit to my dad in the hospital even if we'd manage to pull of a better celebration in the future. So regardless of what we can and may do in the future, we had to get time off from both our jobs and surprise our parents with a little improvised party with the 4 of us in the hospital room.

We got permission to arrive early before "visiting hours" with picnic coolers, photo books, ... and prepare before my mom would arrive.  The hospital personnel had partially spoiled the surprise for our mother, but she still hadn't expected to find us with gifts, food, camera, etc.

Although nobody should ever have to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary in a hospital room, I believe we made the best of it with an overload of snacks we could not finish, too many bubbles, gifts, photo books full of memories to treasure, ... It had been ages since we had spent some quality time with just the 4 of us so it felt good to make it a happy afternoon among ourselves. I saw my parents laughing together and I saw my dad walking unsupported for the first time since 3 months.

I had arrived with quite a heavy mood but felt much better when driving home.

Congratulations to my parents!













Friday, July 29, 2016

Kabouter conversations - July 2016


  • Ik vind samali heel lekker (he likes salami )

  • "Beertje, Kabouter is hier, ik kom zo, het is goed."  (Trying to comfort Beertje)

  • "Dokter, mijn oor doet pijn!  Hier, kijk.   En ik heb nieuwe sandalen. Blauwe!" (explaining to the doctor that his ear hurts and in the same breath that he has new blue shoes)

  • "Ik wil met de voet gaan" (he wants to walk instead of going by car)

  • He's making a big rant against the mosquito's that have bitten him overnight. Then he requests me to also make an angry rant out loud against the mosquito's. So I tell them to leave our home.
    Then he says disappointedly: "Ze luisteren niet naar mama" (they don't obey you mommy)

    At another moment:
    "Vliegen ga naar buiten, ik ben dat beu!"

  • K:  "Jij bent Kabouter.  Ik ben mama"

    K: "Jij bent Beertje (to me).  Jij bent ook Beertje (pointing to Jan)"
    G: "Oh en wie is Beertje dan?"
    K: "Mama"

    K: "Ik ben krokodil.  Whaaaaaa."
    K: "Jij moet bang zijn."

    he's experimenting with role-playing, assigning everybody with new roles all the time

  • We are eating letter shaped cookies and he asks for every cookie which letter it is.
    J: "Dit is een V. Een V van vogel en van vliegtuig."
    G: "Jaaaa van piloot"

  • G: "Weet je nog hoe je een koe in het Frans noemt?"
    K: "Bonjour!"

  • J: "Hoe zeg je Tot ziens in het Frans?"
    G: "Tot ziens in het Frans"


  • K: "Hoe noemen die koeien, mama?"
    G: "Felix, Louis en Jefke" (it's fun to make something up when you get weird questions)
    K: "Oooh dat wist ik niet hoor."

  • "Mag koekiemonster in het zand, mama? Mogen de piraten ook in het zand?"
    (he knows he cannot get into his little pool with any of his clothes but he's so polite to ask then whether he can go into the sandbox with the clothes he's wearing. what a sweetheart). 

  • "Die koekjes hebben we nog niet gegeten, hoor!" (he pulls out a huge bag of chips in the supermarket that we have not tried yet to bring it to our shopping cart)

  • K: "Ik ga dan nog een beetje slapen.  Straks.  Eerst tandjes poetsen, dan pampertje aan en dan boekje lezen en dan ga ik slapen straks."
    G: "Ja en daarna gaan mama en papa ook slapen"
    K: "Jullie moeten dan ook een boekje lezen"

  • "Oooh Beertje heeft een broekje met schildpadden op. Dan kan hij zwemmen!"  

  • K: "Papa, heb jij een boertje gelaten?"
    J: "Nee hoor, dat durf ik niet."
    K: "Jawel hoor, ik heb het gehoord."

  • G: "Waarom heb jij je tuut nodig? Ben je moe?"
    K: "Nee, ik ben niet moe."
    G: "Waarom heb je je tuut dan nodig?"
    K: "Ik moet gewoon een beetje tuuten"

  • J: "Ga je dag zeggen voor we ophangen?"(at the end of a Facetime conversation)
    K: "Ik heb al dag gezegd"

    (he can be impolite too)

  • K: "Het is weer de stoel!!"  (he sees "1000 Zonnen en Garnalen on tv")

  • (on a rainy morning)
    G: "Wat ga je doen?"
    J: "Ik ga werken."
    G: "Met de auto?"
    J: "Ja gewoon met de auto"
    G: "Jij moet ook een jas aan!!"
  • We are driving through the forest
    G: "We rijden door het bos. Ga je kijken of je hertjes ziet?"
    J: "Wat leeft er allemaal in het bos?"
    K: "Giraffen!"   "Leeuwen."  "Olifanten."
    G: "Echt waar? Interessant, ik wist echt niet dat die hier in het bos woonden.  Wist je dat hier ook everzwijnen wonen en vossen?"
    K: "Neeeeeee mama, dat kan niet hoor, dat is echt niet waar hoor."

    Sometimes the truth seems to be very surreal.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

BBQ with a downpour

The men of 72 have founded a new tradition: a summer BBQ at one of the men's home place with a big garden available. After a first small successful edition, 27 people would show up this weekend. Some would bring appetizers, some would bring craft beer, some would bring dessert. And we came early to help prepare the vegetable , potato and pasta dishes.

We had left the Ardennes in the rain but arrived in a hot radiant sun so I no longer felt guilty for having put Kabouter in shorts. The weather forecast had predicted unstable weather in the east of the country but so far so good: we were having hot summer weather.

We were ready quite well on time, so we could teach Kabouter a bit how to play at a soccer table (which he had discovered in the home while loudly singing "De Kampioenen, de kampioenen, wij zijn de beste van het land!") and to have some first drinks in the comfortable lounge set in the garden.




A bit later not only all the men, their families and way too many delicious snacks arrived...but also the thunderclouds rolled in. The first drips were still refreshing and managable but around 17h30 it really started to pour down. We were all under a huge tent and some of the kids had found the jaccuzi to splash in. We checked the radar, saw it'd still pour for another 20 minutes and then we were over with it. So we snacked on.

When we checked the radar again, the rain would stop in 15 minutes (but 30 minutes had already passed). When we checked again it would rain another 30 minutes...or 60 minutes or etc... The amount of rain splashing down was quite impressive and after a while all tents started to leak inside.




The hot jacuzzi had become quite popular and we've set the record of 12 people in it at the same time. Our Kabouter wanted to join right away. Fortunately we had his swim shorts at hand but by the time he got changed and arrived at the hot tub, he froze at the sight of so many people in the tub.  Wrapped in a huge towel, he sat patiently down at the lounge bed to wait until it became more calm. We sat there for a long time, waiting, watching the others in the rain ...his little bare body wrapped in the towel next to me until it became very clear the jacuzzi would never be empty and we'd simply get cold there. At a somewhat calmer moment, I grabbed the opportunity to gently hand him over to the people into the water and that was it: for the rest of the evening, he hardly wanted to leave the hot water anymore and all evening we heard him laugh and splash. 



After a few hours of rain, the table under the tent started to look quite wet and we hadn't been able to start grilling yet, so our host was looking a bit stressed. It was clear we had to organise ourselves differently. With a lot of helping hands, some furniture inside got pushed aside, some outside tables were added inside, which freed up some BBQ space under the tent.  In the end we managed to sit inside quite well and it all came together while the field at the end of the garden started to look like a pond waiting for some ducks to arrive.




At the end of the evening, it miraculously stopped raining and one of the men on his way with his craft beer old-timer finally made it after hours of driving along flooded neighbour towns (movie from 7km from where we were) (news about that here) trying to find a non-flooded connecting road. We left the group gathered cosily around the camp fire late at night.  Fortunately we had no difficulties driving home either, although we passed by some closed off roads but the motorway was no longer flooded.





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Milatos

Our vacation in Crete in June was in Milatos. The name sounded very familiar and I only realised last week that I confused it with Miletus (Thales from Miletus...a classic city in Turkey). The drive to the hotel led us over tiny little roads across hills with sharp turns and hilly climbs and descends for 15 minutes away from the main road. Apart from one tiny settlement, we didn't seem to be near any bigger town.  But it was a bit of mystery what the Milatos town would be like further away, so we checked it out.

First we went sightseeing to the "Milatos caves" up in the hills but the entry turned out to be a non stroller accessible trail disappearing in the hills, so we skipped the actual visit.  Signs to an "authentic" village led us indeed to an almost deserted village high up with the village "family restaurant" showed 2-3 tables next to a house under the vines. Very authentic indeed, but we skipped again and descended back to Milatos at the beach.





The deserted town had a little marina, 4-5 quiet restaurants along the coast and a pub that offered free sunbeds for its guests at the tiny beach. There was one family outside at the beach. We walked up and down again, seeked some refreshments in the bar and shopped for new sunglasses for Jan. At least we supported the locals a tiny little bit.  Milatos seemed like a nice place to hide yourself from the rest of the world with a book, far from all tourist traps and any activity at all. You might get a bit lonely though as I don't suspect the place to become buzzing with activity at night.






Birthday party at Familiebar

After we enjoyed Familiebar for the first time the first summer weekend, we returned home from the Ardennes to hang out with friends in order to celebrate a birthday together.

A big gathering of pic-nic carpets, some bottles with bubbles, loads of fruit and cake, balls, playing kids, ... were our ingredients for a great afternoon outdoors with friends.






Friday, July 22, 2016

Sand and pool time

We've finally got some nice weather over the last days ... even during the weekend and some days off. Woot woot.  So we enjoyed some life outdoors as it should be during summer. 











Monday, July 18, 2016

On his tummy

We are in a new phase: our youngest does no longer stay where we've laid him down. Even though we knew this was coming, it's quite freaky the first times when you look at the spot where Beertje was last seen :).

Already a few weeks he was kicking his legs so hard that he was turning in circles on his back and actually moving forward a bit.  A few times he had also rolled on his belly, with or without help. Since last week he really mastered that last skill. Unlike his older brother who learned to roll and once he knew how to do it, lost his interest in the skill for another 4-5 months again, Beertje loves it. Laying on your back is for little babies and he's clearly a big boy already, so he rolls over
... And then he can observe the world for a bit on his belly
... And then he's tired and upset as he can't roll back yet.

So it's a bit of a difficult phase for us as we have to go and rescue the little boy all the time. We are missing our few quiet moments where he was entertaining himself on the play carpet. Oh well, it'll pass as he'll get even more mobile. Help, he really grows up too fast, so I'll bear with the constant rescuing and flipping for now.







Obviously when filming he doesn't want to show off and only rolls halfway

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The beach

Spending a week vacation at the pool can become quite boring, so sometimes you need a change.  And then you descend to the beach (not too often as it means you need to climb up again with 1-2 strollers filled with children, towels, diaper bags and toys ...one shouldn't do too much exercise in the heat, right?) .

The 2 biggest boys worked on their castle building skills while I stayed in the shade at some distance with Beertje enjoying the sea breeze.
Several days there was a strong sea wind and the red flag was raised so in the end we weren't that often at the beach, which was a pity as it was a nice little spot to escape from the world.












Saturday, July 16, 2016

Familiebar in the city park 2016

Leuven boasts a Familiebar in the city park for an entire month. The entire park is filled with little stools, improvised tables, some kid's toys etc. After a month of flooding rains, there's also a new "lake" in the middle of the grass field that got nicely bordered with some plants.
There is a bar with a nice range of beers, some wines or refreshing non-alcoholic drinks and in the weekends there's always a foodtruck visiting.  Apparently in the afternoons there's also entertainment and workshops for all ages but we were quite late so we missed that. However in the evening there's a DJ p laying some lounge music which is perfect to just hang out for a while with friends. The music has been tested by our toddlers and turns out to be quite dancable :D.

It's just the perfect spot to go and hang out and chill a bit with friends, even if we only hop by for an hour or so. We enjoyed it on Sunday evening and will definitely be back this summer.  We already got a birthday invitation to celebrate tomorrow :) :).