Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017


You might have noticed that I've posted slightly more than I'm used to. Kathleen from Verbeelding and some of the blogging friends that took her course, had the idea to try to blog for 40 days in lent  (with 6 free days).

While I usually feel a bit allergic to all hypes where I feel obliged to do something, this time I was in the mood to join.  With an average of 4-5 posts it's only a minor step-up. On top of that, Kathleen is so understanding that you don't truly need to blog for 40 days, but it's a nice incentive.  She also sent a long list with potential topics that can inspire us.

To be honest: I have an average of 90 posts in draft...most of the time just a title that reflect what seemed a good idea at one time.  Some are that old I have no clue anymore what they were about, some are no longer relevant, some take a lot of time to elaborate.  So so far, I've not needed any of the inspirational topics.

Usually I try to type some posts in the weekend that I schedule throughout the week - often pictures of the activities we did those days - but I had no time, no energy and no inspiration. No inspiration is really strange as I had reopened 10 of those draft posts with the intention to finish those during the 40 day blog challenge. Some days you just have a writer's block.

While last week I assumed I'd blog these 40 days with a breeze , not even using the 6 day offs, right now I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do next week since I've not posted anything in advance anymore.  We'll see :)

If I'd get too silent, you can always go and read over at the other participants.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Standing up and sitting down

Beertje mastered the skill of standing up for a limited time without support in his 11th month. We are quite used to the sight of Beertje releasing his hands and staying upright for a while now. 

Since 10 days I notice he's discovered the skill of going sit down somewhere and he's clearly enjoying that new sensation. Stairs, shoeracks, ...anything can be a baby chair apparently.  This is something Kabouter has never done so elaborately. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beertjes birth story (III)

(Part I here and part II here)

The gentle contractions from the start increased very quickly and soon I was pacing the room to seek my comfort. I sough the help of the nurses: the bouncing ball...not comfortable. Leaning on the bed while Jan massaged my back...nope despite his best efforts really not comfortable.  I had difficulty to find a position that could catch my contractions well. The pain with Kabouter (who was in a posterior position and still had to turn) was back pain  but this time I had more belly pain and that confused me.

Much to my surprise I was allowed to go in the bathtub, even though my water had been broken already. I had good memories from the bath when in labour with Kabouter, so I gave it a try.  But it hurt...It really really hurt and the water didn't sooth very much.

By 4 PM I realised I was moaning in high pitch and I was not applying the belly breathing I knew was better. I didn't relax anymore in between contractions. I was tense, completely tense and I feared I couldn't cope with this quickly increasing pain anymore.  My info sessions and pregnancy yoga had taught me the importance to relax your muscles and I felt I couldn't. I was doing it all wrong!! It hurt! It had to stop. I started to panic. I asked for an epidural but at that point it couldn't come fast enough. Why did it take so long??  I squeaked and cried while I was helped out of the bath tub. Hurry up, I cannot cope with this!

A too long 15 min later, a needle calmed the storm. As heavy as it first overwhelmed me, it was followed by


I kept having a vague sentiment of the contractions: no pain but I could tell my body was doing something which wasn't the case with the epidural for Kabouter.

Now the waiting restarted.  The disadvantage of an epidural is becoming immobile: you are stuck on your bed and even if you want to go to the toilet (which I could still notice), you need help and you need to do it at the bed. We were resting and talking a bit. And I was still irritated by the error message on the windows screen on the computer in the room that had been there since the evening before.

The staff let us alone for a long time so I had no real idea how I was progressing. I could track the contractions on a graph but lost quickly interest in doing so.  The evening approached and the nurses came to tell me my gynecologist's shift would soon be over and that he'd hand-over to his colleague but probably wouldn't be there anymore when our baby was born. They confirmed that it all had been slower than anticipated (no kidding) but that all was going well so that I shouldn't worry when he went home. Frankly I couldn't care less who was helping me to deliver the baby.  The disadvantage of having the follow-up of pregnancy in one of the biggest hospitals of Belgium is the fact that there's so many dozens of doctors professors and their assistants running around that you get to see new people all the time...I had found most of them evenly unworldly in their way of communicating. Only after my diabetes diagnosis, I was assigned a dedicated professor who specialized in pregnant diabetes patients. But I didn't care if he or someone else would assist the birth.

The nurses promised to come and check on me in another hour or so.  But after 7 PM I noticed a changing feeling.  The slight awareness of contracting muscles seemed to lower and move from the front towards the back.
"I think I'm ready", I said to Jan and we ran the bell button.

"I feel things are changing, can you please check how much I'm dilated now?" I asked when 2 nurses opened the door at 7.15 PM.  They glanced from one meter away.
"We don't need to examine you at all. You are ready, we can see the baby's head from here. We'll call the doctors."

5 - 10 minutes later, 2 nurses and 2 specialists were at my feet. Because I was diabetic, apparently the protocol considered this a birth at risk and demanded a gynecologist + a supervisor to be present. Glad I had not known this beforehand. What a party.

They inquired once again about my bad experiences with the episiotomy executed during Kabouter's birth, which I had listed on my birth plan. I was glad that the pieces of paper I had filled in from the hospital's booklet and handed in this morning, had not remained idle. I had not expected them to look at it and take it into account, but they did. But they couldn't promise not to get a new episiotomy.

I pushed once...
I pushed once again...
I pushed another time...and I was asked to pauze as I needed another episiotomy (boooh)
and then I pushed once more....
and they handed Beertje to me.  And all the rest didn't matter anymore (7.42 PM)

I didn't attempt to donate cord blood as I had read a lot this time about the importance to only cut the umbilical cord until after it stopped pulsating to provide Beertje with a head start full of his own oxigin, iron and antibodies filled blood. I had asked to at least wait the 2 minutes that the WHO recommended but then you might as well wait until the umbilical cord has completely stopped pulsating as there won't be enough left to donate anymore.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The first spring sun

We had not been in the Ardennes since the big snow fun in January but now we returned with the first hints of Spring around the corner. So it was a bit funny to see our snow plows fallen idle on the driveway as a reminder we had left with huge piles of snow.  This time we were greeted by snowdrops in the grass.

Unfortunately, due to the 2 jobs I currently combine, I had to work to prepare some meetings for the beginning from the week so I couldn't spend as much time outside as I would have wanted.  But Jan and the kids had a really good time and the neighbour boy joined them.  They biked, rode a little red tractor, played with a ball  ...and came inside constantly to beg for cookies :D.  On Sunday we repeated it but this time I joined them outside for a while after all so I could catch some vitamine D as well and load myself for the rest of the week.
That first sunshine was such a blessing for all of us!

Kabouter trying to make pictures from his dad and brother

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Made in Belgium: Wanathee

Wanathee is another discovery thanks to Studio Brussel's "Nieuwe Lichting".  What a powerful refreshing voice.  Please more of that.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beertje's baptism party

After Beertje's baptism in church last week, we rushed under big umbrella's to the nearby restaurant, ignoring the beautiful and extensive abbey domains where I had hoped to go for a walk with the family.   Not that day. The weather was still just awful with lots of rain and a lashing cold wind. 

Inside the restaurant we found refuge in the 3 rooms next to the old water mill that had been reserved for us. So fortunately we had sufficient room for our group and the kids could play a bit in "their room" without disturbing the rest of the restaurant.

We had our reception next to the mill.  The service wasn't 100%  as they focused on refilling our glasses a few times in the first 15 minutes (when I was in fact away to feed Beertje) and then left us dry. Only after a reminder from us after a long time, they remembered they were supposed to serve us some appetizers as well which were then served in a rush one after the other.

Hurray hurray it is my party

We couldn't get irritated too much by it as all of a sudden an ambulance was needed for someone who felt unwell. Fortunately it was clear quickly there wasn't anything serious and Kabouter could have a short visit in the ambulance before we waved them goodbye again. 

Then we could go and sit for our dinner, with better service, good food and no more stressy moments. In between courses the kids had fun unpacking Beertje's (and Kabouter's) presents.  Both children have been really spoilt. The weather cleared up a bit so all the children also could run around outside for a bit in between the courses, which was a nice welcome to all of us.

It took 1 minute in the car for Beertje to sleep...exhausted after a day of cuddling all his family and friends.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Crocusses and rain

Proud purple flowers
announce the end of winter
like flames in the grass

Despite lashing rain, 
they provide us Spring hope and
some sun in our heart

My  Canadian host sister challenged me to write a haiku about crocusses and rain after a comment I made about our weather last week on her haiku on Instagram.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Neighbourhood playground

We've made the conscious choice to send Kabouter to a small school in the neighbourhood where most children live in the streets around us.  Beside the fact that we liked this school at walking distance, we were happy that he'd build friendships with a lot of nearby children.

After one year we already notice the effect since we often go somewhere and Kabouter exclaims to see so or so from school.  The same thing happened recently when we went for a short "bike ride" in the neighbourhood park.   One of the girls from his class was playing there and it was fun to see the interaction of the 2 kids and to see both of them race on their running bikes.

In the mean time Beertje sled from a slide for the first time and he loved it. Before we knew it this little dare devil simply launched himself down...quite a difference with his brother who didn't do it yet last summer!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Online grocery shopping compared

From the moment Kabouter started in daycare a few years ago, I was bound by a strict deadline to come home on time for the first time in my life.  Combining a full time job with commuting to the office and dropping off and picking up a child in childcare, causes some time challenges.  For that reason I could not do any grocery shopping after work before picking up Kabouter and I don't feel like leaving to the store anymore in the evening with one or 2 children.  
That's the reason why I started experimenting with online grocery shopping with pick-up services.

  1. The first one I tested was Wink.

    Wink had just opened nearby my work. I tried out their promotion to new customers.  

    Wink is a 100% online store that has 2 drive-in locations (Zaventem + Waver) and some pick-up points in that region. There is no physical store where you can go and shop inside.

    The goods are shown with a good inventory indication and the best before dates, ...  Since they only exist online, you obviously don't pay an extra fee for the preparation of the goods. You must pay online and then show up at their drive in where they come and load your goods into your car within a few minutes outside. Since there is a good trace of their inventory at the moment you order, there are no surprises of products that are out of stock.

    The personnel was incredibly friendly, the location was new, shiny and modern, the loading spots had wifi hotspots etc etc....So Wink goes all the way to give you all the service you want.

    But I missed my regular brands and products that I was used to. Their product range wasn't that big yet (I have no idea if it evolved) so I still had to shop elsewhere in the weekend for more things. For me this was a key reason to check out different options.

    Since I shopped a few times at Wink, I now receive biweekly e-mails with offers. Every week they try to get me back as customer with some discount or free product on something.

  2. (Carrefour).

    Even closer to my work than Wink, is a hyper Carrefour. I litterally have to drive by twice a day, so when they opened a shopping point on the parking lot, I had to test them.

    The product range is perfect: we regularly shop in the Carrefour so they have all "my" products. You are not limited to foods and the most frequently sold non-foods,  but there is a lot of categories to choose from in  However, there are still less things than in the physical store. The online store doesn't show any inventory indication or best before date so it is possible that you order something that is not available. And you can't control which best before date you will receive.

    If your order is less than 150 euro, you pay a preparation fee of 4 euro's. But if the handler is in a good mood, he apparently has the authorisation to wave this extra fee, which has happened to me a couple of times. So be friendly to the employees, they might be friendly to your bill too.

    The pick-up process is slightly less smooth than The orders are not paid online so you still need to pay outside. When you come to pick up your goods, they always need to check if it includes everything. If anything was out of stock, they give you a proposition of a replacement product that you can accept or refuse and then they adjust the bill accordingly. Carrefour is also champion in handing out 10000 types of loyalty cards, stickers, etc...that all need to be covered there on the parking lot.   Due to all this, the pick-up takes a bit longer. The pick-up terminals have had a few outages as well.

    So Carrefour could still learn some process improvements from Wink.

  3. Delhaize Collect

    Jan has used Delhaize collect a few times as there is a store not far from our home and therefore it is not a big detour for us either.

    The first time when I went to pick up our goods, I thought I arrived after closing time as the little office's door was completely closed. In Leuven it is located in the parking basement of the shop.  It wasn't clear to me right away that I had to ring a bell and wait for someone to show up and open up....not very welcoming and not a pleasant area to wait at all.

    Then your order is recomposed from several boxes (cooled, non-food, ...) in a cart while you are waiting at their desk after which you pay and you roll the cart yourself to your car. So it doesn't get loaded into your car like the other stores.  Because they recompose your order from all the prepared bags in their little office space in front of your eyes, you get the illusion it all takes much more time than needed, even though it also only takes several minutes as with the other stores. Yet it feels less "ready to go".
Conclusion: they are all valid and good options.   If you live nearby one of the 2 drive-in's from wink and if you like their product range, you'll get the best service from them.  If you favour - like me- a very extensive product choice online, then is your choice.
Delhaize Collect is not my preferred choice but that's mainly due to the unfavorable location to wait and pick-up your goods in the basement parking lot.

What about you? Do you do any of your grocery shoppings online? Does anyone have experience with home deliveries??

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beertje's baptism

Previous weekend it was finally Beertje's baptism.  The date was chosen in function of the availability of the godparents. When setting the date however, I hoped to feel some spring that weekend and to able to tour our guests around in our new enlarged home.  Neither of that happened.

We had to walk to the church through inclement rain but inside the church we could settle dry and wait for everyone to arrive. With 10 children present, there were always some little ones running around to crawl on the lap of mommy, daddy, grandpa or grandma or to go wave to an uncle or nephew or to go play with the booklets.  Sometimes it was a little hard to concentrate on the texts we had selected or the rituals that we'd perform, but fortunately the priest (and we) had a fairly relax approach so we were all going with the flow.

Beertje won't remember any of it, but I hope he'll receive the blessings and wishes we've pronounced for him and that he'd get all of our promised support to grow up and develop to a loving man.  His candle, lit from the Easter candle has found a new spot nearby his brother's baptism candle and our wedding candle.