Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Fall walk in the midst of Winter

After a week of family gatherings, food, receptions with the neighbours and a baking vague by Jan, we got out for one of our favourite walks in the neighbourhood around the village along the Warche.  The weather in between the storms that seem to come by constantly in the previous weeks, the weather was in fact quite mild and enjoyable this weekend. 

We walked in dusk along the swollen creek (in contradiction to all the inundation alerts in the country after the overload of rain, the river was high but the lake it feeds into is in fact extremely low....they must have produced a lot of electricity?) and through the woods. I enjoyed breathing in the fresh air so much!! Clearly I've spent too much time inside lately ;). 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Urgent maintenance needed

We were greeted by warning signs at the entry of Fagne de Polleur that the road was not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. That's a real pity as it is advertised & it should be the only easy access, interpretative trail that remains open all year, regardless the weather conditions. That principle seems to have been abandoned.

Indeed we had seen this summer already that this path became quite questionable at some spots and I wondered whether how wheelchairs would still easily get around.  Clearly no maintenance has been done whatsoever and the trail was let further deteriorate.  It's not like all effort went to repairing the woodwalk near Baraque Michel after the fire as that is still gone as well. Pooh that's still not there either. 

Fortunately we were carrying Kabouter again, so we could still easily get around.  ...not that other tourists were bothered by the warnings and kept happily (?) pushing their strollers around. The open wind over the boglands was very icy so we didn't make the walk any longer than necessary.  Brrrr, it reminded me of that walk at the very same spot, but it wasn't as bad yet.  Still cold enough to enjoy afterwards the warm house, fireplace and some fresh pastries!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kabouter's first party

A few weeks ago, Kabouter had his first big party.  A babyborrel * (baby reception) in his honor for all our friends & family.  It had all long been planned before his birth as the invites need to be included with the birth announcement. It's quite abstract to plan so far ahead of time, but it came all together nicely.

Fortunately he was in a really good mood and took all the attention in very well. I had feared a bit that it would have been too overwhelming for this littly boy as we hat 160 guests at the party! Quite busy but so fun to see all these friends & family again for a fun occasion. As it always goes on this type of events though, Jan and I lacked time to truly catch up with everyone but I've tried to navigate to all tables as much as I could to talk and visit. We really hope it was as enjoyable for our guests as it was for us.

We were ready :)

The doopsuiker was ready

Our caterer with drinks & dessert buffet was ready

Kabouter was in the mood for some celebrating ;)

And all friends & family arrived to overload him with attention and love.

niece's love

Proud nieces & nephew

At occasions like this, it's a good opportunity to take a group family picture as it is rare that I'm together with so many of my cousins.  We have quite a big family with some generation jumps so we don't often manage to spend time together.

A special thanks to Carolien Coenen who was our excellent photographer, providing us a big load of beautiful memories!

*In the recent years it has become quite a habit in Flanders to host a babyborrel and invite all friends that want to visit the baby. Rather than hosting for months people at home, it is organised at once which is rather practical for the parents. Obviously close family and best friends come at home anyhow.  But for friends, acquaintances and further relatives, it's a good opportunity to get together. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


In Belgium it is the tradition to give all family & friends visiting a newborn baby some "doopsuiker" / suikerbonen which are sugar coated chocolate beans or almonds. You can get them in specialised stores in all kinds of fun wrappings, gift boxes...if you wish in the theme of your birth announcement card. Or alternatively you can also amuse yourself crafting them yourself .  More and more there are many innovations as giving little soaps with the baby's name or Pringle boxes or ...or...or... Anything goes really as long  you can put off a little display with the sugar beans and let your visitors pick out their little souvenir. 

Jan and I opted to create Kabouter's birth announcement ourselves and elected some materials, gadgets & beans in the same colors and theme. In the last week before giving birth I had just enough "comfortable" time to craft an initial set of gifts for the number of people we expected to visit us in the hospital and the first weeks at home. It was work in secrecy as they had to be surprise. Then after a few weeks, crafting the last batch was a family activity with Kabouter in the position of critical quality control ;).  It was fun not to have bought them ready to go in the store. I hope our visitors enjoyed them as well. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Introducing Christmas to Kabouter

...It's mainly all those shiny lights that are wonderful (and sometimes comforting but that trick doesn't always work unfortunately). He'll be so disappointed and bored again in January.

His first meeting (and later on a second meeting on a different market)  with Santa went by unnoticed by him.

This wooden crib will be so much fun later on! I'm sure the figures will have lots of adventures in the coming years.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Luxemburg Christmas markets

The Christmas market was nice, but I'd not recommend to travel to Luxemburg just for this reason as that's not quite worth it.  But if you are there, do stroll around.  

And.... ensure to drink a Heisser Hugo, a sort of refreshing hot mojito (hot white wine with elder syrup, lemon & mint). Mmmmmmm  !!!