Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Déja vu the sequel

This, this , this, this and this kept bugging me AGAIN last month with ups and downs.
As a result I will relive this day tomorrow (apart from the anaesthetics confusion that won't happen again: I know I'll go completely under tomorrow morning and can't have breakfast anymore) (and I won't be reading a cooking competition book).

It totally stresses me out with anticipating fear, so let's change the topic, ok?


There's a European top going on in Leuven where all European eduction ministers gather to discuss the future of European eduction after the Bologna -treaty. Riots were expected so Leuven's center has been virtually completely closed down, much to the dismay of local shopowners and students. The complaint is that it has become an occupied city.

VTM: "Riots in downtown Leuven" => mention that water canon had to be used etc. Not much info on the top.
VRT: "Higher eduction must be payable" => 3rd paragraph mentions small riots at the end of the demonstration.
De Morgen: "Students demonstrate against eduction summit in Leuven" => mentions there were "incidents".
De Standaard: "Students demonstrate in Brussels and Leuven" => "At the end of the demonstration there were "some incidents".

I find it so interesting that in each interview with VTM journalists they claim not to be more sensational than the other news sources. Yeah right.
From home at 1 km of the "riot area" I've only noticed a police helicopter in the air all day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shopping therapy

  • What to do when you've spent too much time home alone already and it's starting to weigh down on your mood?

  • What to do if you can't go along on a dive club excursion to the Netherlands simply because you can't sit (that long) (in a car)? What if you have to stay home alone behind all weekend?

  • What to do if you are afraid that you'll be more housebound in the coming weeks due to a potential new surgery?
Well you can invite a friend for dinner and a DVD....and another one for a gentle walk around the block. And you can go shopping?

I am not those women with a shoe fetish. not al all. I love my old worn shoes that are so comfortable. In winter you need a brown and black shoe and some boots and then you are set for years. They fit everything. In summer you need some suede sneakers for cold days or walking days, some neutral colored flat sandals and heeled sandals. And you need hiking boots and a pair of flip-flops for the beach. Anything more is optional.
On average my shoes last 4 years for sure but there's shoes in my closet 14 years old (although those should get thrown out though).

My summer black smart sandals are starting to wear out, so I felt to buy a back-up...in white. There was a lot of offer but only one pair attracted me a lot. Yet it was sold out in my size. So I was giving up already like I often do when looking for shoes. But on my way back home I noticed them in the window again at another store. And they still had them in my size and they were not expensive at all and I love them !! (and on the online Esprit store they are sold-out in my size as well :p ). Weird, never been so excited for a new pair of shoes.

I'm Goofball and will remain Goofball

When living in Canada with my hostparents Mr and Mrs W., I noticed my mom's driver's licence laying on the table.
"hey mom, your name is .... W!"
"euh yes?!"
"oh my gosh, that is so cute. You are W. and he is W. and the two of you met and got married!!"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, don't you see, what a coincidence...you are W. and he is W. and you've met, fallen in love and both got married to each other! That's quite a coincidence right. Wow I love that story!"

My host parents gave me a very strange look and I frowned at them for that reason. It turned out after some more confusing conversation that we were all trapped in our own cultural framework too much to understand each other's surprise right away. It only got solved when my host mom all of a sudden blurred out
"My maiden name is C. though"
"Oh but how can it be, your driver's licence says your name is W"

Currently I know that in a lot of cultures women change officially their name into their husband's name and this name change is reflected in all official documents. However young Belgians growing up in Belgium don't always know this when venturing out into a new culture :p. So although I knew that people socially do get referred to as Mr and Mrs W...I really thought that official ID documents would always and always reflects one's maiden name, the one you grew up with.

With our upcoming wedding , I've also received the question what I will be called in the future? Which name will I take?"Euh.....my name is Goofball and always will be Goofball no matter whether I'm getting married or not?"

So apparently in the Anglo-Saxon countries, women assume their husband's name upon marriage. I'm not sure if that happens automatically or is a matter of choice. Anyway I find it very confusing to see Facebook suggestions of people that half of my Canadian class has been connected too but whose name I don't recognise at all (and if they put a baby picture as profile picture they are not helping either!)....turns out they were in my class after all but changed their name. Argh, how on earth do you keep track of people that way????? And why on earth is this a habit in countries where the people are seem already so keen on moving with every hick-up of their stomac?
In some countries you have the choice: the wife can adopt her husband's name or vice -versa. I know my German cousin made a very concious choice to take on her husband's family name.
In the Netherlands you can choose to hyphen both names....

But in Belgian we strictly follow the Napoleontic law that one's only name can be the name on your birth certificate. So I'm born as Goofball and I'll die as Goofball regarless my life track in between those 2 major events. I can trust that all my female classmates will still have the exact same name when we run into each other again decades later. We don't change, we don't make choices, we don't hyphen, ....

That doesn't mean that in the future I'll never get postal mail addressed to Mrs Jan ....but that would indicate that people only got to know me in a social context via Jan and they don't know my personal name. But I shouldn't try to book airline tickets on his name as I wouldn't get through customs when they compare my ID with my boarding card!! And I won't be able to open a bank account using his name either. Anything with official value that needs to identify me will hold my (maiden) name.

I've read some wedding forums and this law for Belgian citizens does seem to cause frustration for some Belgian-Anglo Saxon couples where the husband had hoped she'd take his name. You can always go to court to apply for a name change but that's a lengthy, costly procedure where you need to proof a good reason to apply for the name change and it is a benefit that needs to be granted by the minister and needs to be published among the newly published laws :p...noth something you'd arrange lightly.

Personally I grew up in this culture and it's customs. Therefore I'd feel very strange if my name would change. As if I'd loose myself. As if my identity depends on my father and/or my husband. ....nope nope, I'm glad remain myself in matrimony as well :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2 wedding ceremonies??

This post is also published at www.lilacspecs.com as a guest post. Korie has given up her entire familiar world to move across the globe to follow her heart. She lives in Ghent with cabanaboy and is currently preparing their wedding. It's quite interesting to here the cultural challenges she comes across in such a international wedding. Since we're both preparing our wedding, I thought I'd explain some of the Belgian traditions. Please do stop at her blog after reading this post and go and say hi to her!

"Are you going to have the ceremony outside"
"2 wedding ceremonies, huh, what do you mean?"

What seems total obvious to me often causes confusion when I am chatting with some foreign friends. I think I might have an idea what a North-American wedding could look like for as far as the many foreign movies and series on tv.
I picture a church or a beautiful outside park or ... with a minister (or anyone authorised to marry 2 people) waiting in front and a nervous groom with his groomsmen. Then music starts and multiple bridesmaids walk down the isle and the bride follows with her dad as last.

Belgian weddings aren't fundamentally different. Yet we have one big contraint: the only legally accepted wedding is the "civil marriage" at the town hall executed by an authorised civil servant. If you want a religious ceremony....great, go ahead AFTER the civil marriage. But as church and state are seperated, Belgium only considers you as a married couple by that civil wedding. This dates back from the Napoleontic laws and is still a current rule in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Turkey, Argentina and Russia.

Each city can have its own regulations as when these civil weddings can take place. In Leuven for example you can marry on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. In the city I grew up, all weddings were on Friday afternoon with some rare exceptions on Saturday morning. As for the location: that is the wedding hall in the city hall (of the city one of the partners is registered?).

You must apply for your wedding at least 2 weeks in advance and maximum 6 months in advance (whereas you must book your wedding venue a year in advance on average!). Your ID, birth certificates and all other necessary documents get checked.

...and you must answer the question "will you exchange the rings then or later? " , which is basically the question whether this is going to be your only wedding ceremony or not.

In the past all wedding applications were posted on a bulletin board in the city offices to make them public and enable anyone who'd oppose to this wedding to make an objection. Much to the chagrin of the old gossip ladies in town who'd enjoy such bulletin boards, this measure isn't executed anymore. Our administrations have figured out there's probably more modern ways to find out when a wedding is about to be fulfilled whereas these boards might not quite be as efficient anymore in a global world.

The actual civil marriage is a quite boring brief ceremony where in many cases only the wedding couple, their 2 witnesses and the close family show up. It's not uncommon that the next wedding couple walks in already when the previous couple is leaving the room. Some cities have the courtesy to book a gap of 5 to 10 minutes in between 2 scheduled couples. In Leuven the wedding conveyer belt starts a new ceremoney every 15 minutes. You are officially not allowed to have a toast inside the city hall building because you need to move on.

As you might have noticed, this mandatory civil marriage lacks a tiny little bit the possibility to personalise the ceremony or cater your personal wishes and style.

So although the Belgian population is becoming ever more secular, a lot of couples opt for a second (religious) wedding ceremony, most often a catholic service in church. Weddings outside in parks etc are still quite rare. But having 2 wedding ceremonies is on the other hand quite common.

Since the legal requirement states that the civil marriage must take place before any other wedding ceremony and it's not always easy to execute the 2 ceremonies on the same day, it's quite possible to have couples that have their civil marriage a couple of days, weeks, more than a year before the other one. The big party with all invited guests usually takes place then the second day. Sometimes this is also done for practical reasons such as mortgage negotiations and fiscal benefits.

Anyway we had booked our wedding location and church 15 months in advance. That's truly how you determine your wedding date in Belgium, not in the reverse order. Much to my relieve in January I heard at the city administration that there were still free wedding slots on our wedding day so we will combine both ceremonies at the same day.

...counting down!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bits of this and that

  • I'm hooked to "Mijn Restaurant" again. Too bad I don't live in one of the participating cities as I feel less involved. Yet the consistent critics comments on Kortrijk....man man man he is clearly talented. And St-Truiden too! And the same consistency on Turnhout in negativity....hmmmm too bad for them.
    And then St-Niklaas and Diest are just fun to watch.
  • Is it just me are is there a lot more Mini Coopers on the road? Some big audit firms like Deloitte seem to have them as their new company car. So is the VW Golf out now and the Mini in? Once I started having that impression I see Mini's all over obviously.
  • It's confusing to get back in your car after 2-3 weeks for the first time ...2-3 weeks after the time switched to summer savings time. Who thinks about resetting the clock anymore?
  • I hate having 2 doctors who claim the opposite: a new abcess growing or just painfull scar tissue that needs to soften. Who to believe? Which action to take?
    I hate having a pain level that remains constant: fairly manageble but too disturbing to live/act normally. Without evolution how will I know what is happening? it should either improve or get worse and its doing neither? Pffffffffff I am still not amused.
  • Too bad Ranunculus flowers aren't there anymore in June
  • Jan and I realise we don't have much pictures witof the 2 of us.
  • Why am I biting my lips?
  • I feel like making a flower arrangement. But when and how? Maybe I should simply buy some fresh flowers.
  • Why am I still biting my lips even though I just realised before that I am doing so?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Déjà vu

I was supposed to blog about the beautiful blossoms in the fruit area of Limburg where we were supposed to go for a walk this afternoon.

Instead I'm home on the sofa with a big déjà vu. I'm not joking. I'm not amused.

update: I didn't want to stay locked up when the sun came out so we went for a slow walk around the block anyway.

The Park Abbey

The Philipssite

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flat Stanley visits Belgium

Last weekend we had a house guest. Jenn in Holland had asked if one of her friends could come on over. We have a guestroom so why not.

So Stanley arrived. He turned to be much younger than I had realised. A little boy really. And dressed in pink, with a skirt. Euh yeah don't ask.

We were hosting "Flat Stanley" for a Flat Stanley project in a kindergarten in Phoenix AZ. And Stanley got to visit Leuven, helped Stef searching for easter eggs and watched Jan diving. I hope the kindergarden kids enjoy seeing the pictures of the adventures their Stanley was having in Europe!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I was going to blog today ...it's been too silent here
I was going to blog today....I have multiple posts in my head for quite a while now
I was going to blog today....because I promised Lilacspecs a guest post
I was going to blog today by quickly posting a music video that I liked....but it took too long to choose one
I was going to blog today...

but I'm tired and it's already bedtime and I don't know where time went tonight (and last nights). Anyway, I'm fine and I am almost entirely cured from that nasty little problem. What thing? hmm I already forgot ;).

Sleep well!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


If you want to avoid busy traffic in Flanders....drive around during the final of a big cycling spring classic like "De Ronde Van Vlaanderen" (tour of Flanders) or Paris-Roubaix. Deserted roads guaranteed.

And although I am truly not a huge cycling connaisseur or fan, I must admit that there isn't much that beats the finals of these races and in Paris-Roubaix always a bit more. Don't tune in for the first hours of the day, but the last 40 kms...mmm juicy!

With reports commenting faster and faster and louder and more excited in a never-ending commentary where they never seem to need to stop to breath, swallow saliva or check something while giving background information, statistics on the more dead moments and then interrupting their own stories with excited screams when a cycler all of a sudden speeds up and makes a gap by the followers where oh no, there's already seconds in between, aaaah no, the other cyclers managed to jump along so in fact nothing happened and we can go back to the background story where a former cycler explains the pain in your souring muscles after riding for hours on those cobblestone patches up to the moment where...gosh no they fall, who's down, who isn't, who is getting up, who got further in front...we can't tell right now, oh yes, he goes on he goes on, he's up alone in front now, ....

Hey who was thinking cycling was boring huh? Especially not in the spring cobblestone classics in Belgium and France where falling, flat tires, cyclers getting flags in the tires from the too eager Flemish fans that are all over the place and unfortunatley also on the middle of the road (the big advantage of the cycling sport is the accessibility), train crossings that close at a few kms from the finish line, ....And of course the weather and wind that makes the cobblestone patches either extremely dusty or extremely slippery.

Ah and then the finish in Paris-Roubaix is on the velodrome downtown, with very often one sole heroic rider with muddy face arriving under a loud standing ovation of the filled stade. Aaaah cycling can be so heroic and nice. (and at other times so damn boring ;) ).

Anyway, the Belgians ruled the race again today with Tom Boonen's 3rd victory in "the hell of the north" .

I love how nature wakes up

Sorry to be repetitive, but I love seeing this fresh nature!

Our tree in the garden transformed from bare to full leaves in 2 weeks time

Magnolia beauty

Our future strawberry harvest!

Happy Easter!

Stef had marked his calender already weeks in advance for the day that the Easter Bunny would visit and hide a lot of eggs in the garden at home but also at the big garden at his grandparent's .
....and he was a lucky boy indeed!


... at every spot


Stef has seen a big bear at the shopping mall

I wish you all a fun holiday and a good dentist ;)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Progress update

And the list keeps on changing:

  • location: booked more than a year ago
  • caterer: booked
  • townhall: booked
  • church: booked
  • dress + shoes + jewels: bought/ordered
    first fitting done
    final fitting planned
  • men's clothes: ordered
  • rings: bought/ordered
  • DJ: booked & meeting done
  • photographer: booked
  • guestlist: finalised
  • invitations: printed and writing envelops ongoing
  • children's clothes: shopping day postponed and replanned tomorrow and next week
  • choir: booked
  • flowers: budgetting and searching inspiration to instruct the florist
  • Taxi: booked
  • Honeymoon vacation: booked
    new passport + international driving license done
    check vaccinations : done
  • Hairdresser: booked
    first trial: done
    second trial: booked
  • Make-up :contacted yet to book
    dermatologist check-up : done
  • Menu's: ongoing
  • Wedding service : ongoing
  • Notary: ongoing
  • Table settings: to do
  • Hen party: apparently getting planned
  • order a wedding candle: to do
Still a lot of ongoing things ongoing at the same time absorbing a lot of time and energy. But everything still seems in control.

Let me know if we forgot anything!


A coincidental encounter was followed by an invitation from our choral conductor and an Afghan refugee family was welcomed at our choir rehearsal. Curious looks crossed each other yet the lack of a common language seemed to make us all a bit uneasy.

We started singing with 8 eyes staring at us but after a while a drum started hesitantly to accompagny us. Ever more confident the rhythm started to sing along and merge with us.

Just before the break we encouraged one of the brothers to sing an Afghan song for us while drumming along. Tunes whirled up across in the room and transformed the boring classroom floor tiles into a busy exotic bazar. A song about a lost love, the greatness of the Prophet or the Aghan countryside, ....? Who will tell?

A little later some of us stood up and tried in our rather stiff European way to do a little dance, much different to the demonstration we were given afterwards by the other brother. It turned into a quite unusual fun rehearsal with some Afhan/European folk music improvisations.

Yet I can't get her face out of my mind when he started singing. Her face and her hands who desperately tried to hide the tears rolling from her face while pulling her veil. How helpless I felt when seeing her pain.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The changing interview meme

I got tagged by RozeBril a while ago. Since I had my mind preoccupied with my medical issues last week, I am a bit late to play but here I am now!

These are the game rules:

1) Answer all the questions and replace one question you don't like as much by a new question, 2) Add a new question.

What is your obsession at this moment? eum...I'm afraid last week was all about abcesses, wounds and medication. But don't worry that obsession is only temporary. No seriously, it's probably wedding planning at the moment for the obvious reason.

What are you wearing at the moment? blue sweatpants and fitting jacket + blue T-shirt....I like comfortable soft fabrics to wear at home.

Do you nap regularly?
Only when I am sick or when I feel utterly exhausted or when a headache is starting.

Who did you hug most recently? Jan

What do you want to change? My unwanted subscription to unwelcome infections. Bleh.

What are you having for dinner? I don't know...I should ask Jan what is on the menu :p. I'm gonna make myself an omelette right now for lunch though.

Your last purchase: lingerie for my wedding :)

What sound are you listening at the moment? The tv in the background.

Favourite weathertype: Bright and sunny and warm! fantastic. What else could it be? I want to go to music festivals, have a outside dinners and BBQ's, walk and make bikerides, dive and picknick next to the dive spots with our friends, ....

Your goal: Conquer some of the fears that bother me.

Say something to the person who tagged you: hey RozeBril...ik geniet altijd van het optimisme en vrolijkheid die jouw blog (en je familie) uitstraalt.

Favourite vacation location:
Egypt for the diving,

Canada for my friends and for the spectacular nature,

USA for the same reasons really,

France for the history and mountains and seas and cities and food,

Greece for the history and beaches and weather,

Spain for the food and beaches and diving ,

Switzerland for the mountains,

London for its diversity,


Films you can watch over and over again:
I used to that as a teenager with "Ferris Bueller's day off", "The Mission", "Dances with wolves", "Daens", ... I knew these movies by heart.
but lately I really don't watch a lot of movies anymore and I don't enjoy watching them multiple times at all. I don't know but I seem to have lost interest in movies over the last years.

Favourite tea tast: fresh mint tea

Book you are currently reading: Ironically enough I've been on sickleave for a week already and have not read a single page in a novel since last Monday. But I am about to start "A thousand splendig sun's" from Khaled Hosseini. I really hope it is gonna be as good as I hope it is gonna be.

What do you want to do one day? cuddle my sleeping baby on my tummy.

Which quality would you like to have? I wish I didn't get irritated so easily

Name one of your qualities: honesty

What are you waiting for? Nice days that warm up the water :-)....and then...SPLASH blub blub blub blub

Do you have a tic or specific characteristic?
yes I rub my handkerchief in my pocket constantly

Which old fashion trend do you hope to return soon?

long (to anckles) wide skirts from the mid nineties. I loved how the fabrics where whirling around my legs.

Allie, Betsy, Anno and Snooker....feel free to play if you feel like it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

From winter to early summer

Last Tuesday I still had to scratch the ice of the windshield in the early morning, but we had already been sitting in the office with open windows for a week or so. Each day the sun broke through warming all us into a great spring mood. By the end of last week it almost felt like summer with temperatures above 20 C (woooooooohooooooooo) and people started wearing tops and shorts and were sitting on the terraces. The entire world sheered up. Oh how lovely it is when it's nice and sunny out and the nature is blooming! I love spring! I love summer more :).
This weekend it's cloudy and cooler again but my mood batteries are still charged by yesterday's sun!

the "vesten" (remainder of medieval ramparts/walls) in Leuven

flowering trees in the neighbour's gardens

Aren't we all wondering whether Jenn would start playing her own invented Singular Saturday meme


Do you want to stimulate her as well? Go then and leave a comment at Jenn in Holland ! Go on then...

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Hi all, thanks for the compassionate comments on my latest post. Can anyone of you give me a hint how to unsubscribe to this series of unwelcome infections???? I already feel quite experienced in this matter now, so no need to experience it anymore in the future!

Yesterday the doctor took the only measure I believe he could take: make an incision in the growing (despite the antibiotics) & visibly bulging abcess and drain it. And yes I did do the amount of cursing and crying I had anticipated. For the coming days/weeks I get to "enjoy" the care of nurses again who come home twice a day to clean and desinfect the wound until it's fully closed again. No matter how much I hate that painfull process, I do know it's only going to get better from now on. In between the daily treatments I am not dealing with much pain, so that's a relief.

Over the past days I've learned once again that I am very skilled in stressing myself out in anticipative fear for what's about to come. Even though I know I am only making things worse for myself, causing sleepless nights and strong nausea, it's so hard to turn that worry/fear button off. Bleh. So glad to realise that the worst is over now!