Thursday, April 30, 2015

Inspiration for blogging

I stole this meme from Kathleen at Verbeelding who asks us where do we find our inspiration to blog!
  • Where do  you find the time?
    My available time to blog fluctuates. Sometimes I find it very easy, sometimes it never seems to work out to find a moment to sit down and type. Having an active toddler around that loves to bang the keyboard as soon as he possibly can or who "demands" to watch Bumba as soon as he sees a screen opening up, doesn't make it easier to find some quiet computer time. Often my blog time is late in the evening, before bed time or in the weekend during some of his naps or when he's playing with Jan.

    As my blog is mainly a journal of my life and I do not  blog about my work, a lot of the updates get inspired by our weekends.  So I often have a new load of pictures then and then I write a few posts one after the other. But I'm a cheater: I try not to post more than once a day (as I am somehow convinced that I get less readers who would not spend time reading multiple posts as attentively at once). So if I have time and inspiration to write  more than one post, I do so and then I pre-schedule them during the coming week.
  • Where do you find your inspiration?
    It's my life: travels, family, vacation, renovations, music or books that catch my attention,  ....Kabouter absorbs a lot of attention of course and he's a huge inspiration.

    Themes will fluctuate as a result depending on my life: sometimes I spam my blog for a couple of weeks with vacation pictures and then that goes quiet again until the next trip.   And that's fine by me as it reflects my life. I used to blog a lot more about books than I did before and that's fine as it is the reality. I started this blog in order

    I really don't want to pressure myself with fixed themes that must appear in a fixed frequence/ sequence.
  • Do you always have full inspiration or do you sometimes suffer from writer's-block?
    I have about 80 draft posts started and never finished and most ideas don't even start as a draft. So as a rule I have sufficient inspiration. Especially in the car while driving, I write the most brilliant relevant thought triggering , funny, reflective, poetic, ....posts . When behind the keyboard, I've usually forgotten all about them and indeed, then I have writer's block   "what was that brilliant idea again???".

    My true writer's block usually is triggered by fatigue. I want to write something about something...but I'm tired, can't concentrate and the words don't come.  Sometimes I just dump the pictures without text but often I also abandon (surely if there's already some posts appearing that week, then it's just find. If my blog has been silent for multiple days , then I quickly dump a nice picture).
  • If words don't come, how do you feel?
    Frustrated. Part of me loves to share.
  • How do you focus while working on a post?
    euh...I don't.   Ha, clearly, count all the grammar errors I dare to post ;).   I always multitask, watching tv, have Kabouter running around, ...
  • Which brainstorm technique guarentees you some good inspiration?
    Geez, I'm not so organized and serious about my blog as that would take out all the spontaneity and fun.  It just comes as it comes.
  • Does music help you find blog inspiration?
    Sure, as I do regularly post about music, my ears are always very much attentive to the radio , to bands that are "Belgian", etc!
  • Where do you generate your best ideas?
    As said before: in the car. But somehow I always loose the brilliant aspect of these before I've worked them out.

    And then simply by doing lots of fun stuff.   A weekend full of activities is a natural source for lots of sharing.
  • In which inspiring environment do you love to blog?
    I blog with the laptop on my lap in front of tv in the living room. Always.
  • Do you also have a "blog bible" on your desk for those moments that you are in lack of inspiration?No, my blog is a reflection of my life so there's no point to invest in blog books that suggest tons of little lists and strategies to attract more readers etc...The more commercial , the more allergic I'm to those.  Obviously I do get style and/or content ideas from reading other blogs: eg this meme is copied from a different blog.
    But in general I lack the time to post all the things that cross my mind and that I'd love to post, so I don't think I need books that give me extra inspiration or rigid formats & rules.  It's my blog so all rules are mine.

    Let's all be genuine and original, with our own approach, rather than copying suggested formats. Let's embrace some spontaneity instead of premeditated copied strategies.
  • Which bloggers inspire you?
    Ordinary people that blog about their own life, with successes, failures, fun and frustrations in a very authentic way.  I'm jealous for many because they have the skill to write it down in a such a beautiful reflective descriptive way with a sense of humor and sensitivity.

    Kruimels is an example,   Kerygma is another, Licht in de Duisternis,  Lime  and Zusjesenzo who have become silent unfortunately,  Annelyse (although I am not interested in running, neither in crafting clothes...but she's simply genuine in her writing) , Sponzen Ridder for his fun little snippets about random things...but also other mom's that I've been following for multiple years now and where it's fun to follow the growing up of the children eg Mymommy's Place and My Life in a Nutshell and Tales from the fairy blogmother .

    This list is very incomplete!!

    In general however I'm usually disappointed by the "popular" bloggers with a lot of followers, with lots of give-aways and commercial reviews.  Erika Van Tielen is an exception as she has a very nice writing style & fun relax parenting style.  Lillith from Tales From the Crib is a little bit too calculated but still passes.
  • What are other special sources of inspiration?
    I think I've already covered that.
  • To whom do you pass this meme?
    It's available here to steal by whomever is interested. (it would be fun to know this however in a comment ). 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Made in Belgium: Brihang

Brihang is a young rapper from the west of the country who raps in the local dialect. He was last year part of the "Nieuwe Lichting" (new talents) from Studio Brussel and he performed right away on many summer festivals.

Now he brings a government campaign to let adolescents express their feelings better to prevent suicide.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vasa Museum

We were advised to visit the Vasa Museum by Swedish colleagues if we were only to visit one thing. We had bought ourselves a Stockholm card for the weekend which gave us access to all public transport and most attractions, so we checked it out while passing by.

I went in not knowing more that it was "about a boat".  After a triple set of heavy doors, we finally entered in a semi-dark room where clearly a different level of humidity was set and there it was in all its splendor (after our eyes adjusted) : a huge royal warfare ship from the 17th century, the only one preserved of its age & size in this world: the Vasa

We watched a short movie about the history of the ship and its unfortunate fate of sinking in a few minutes time on its maiden voyage at barely 1300m further from its departure, with the entire population of Stockholm in shock at the shores after the wind had tilted the ship sideways and water had been able to flow inside into the many canon gates. 

After 333 years on the bottom of the sea, they've managed to recover the ship in a remarkable relative well preserved state.  After another few decades of intense conservation works and archeology, the ship now sits in its own museum (right on the spot of the dry dock where it got pulled in to after the recovery).

Around the several floors (the Vasa is 50m high!) you can find more info on ship building, living aboard a ship, ... I found it particularly interesting that they had dedicated a section to the victims where they had been able to reconstruct a lot: based on clothing, stomac content, dental evaluation, location of corpse in ship they could deduct the role & function of the person/ age/ last meal/ health ... It made it all so much more "real". 

Anyway, impressive museum to stroll around in for a while...even Kabouter exclaimed a lot of wows, although I have to guess what made him so excited at times. 

Monday, April 27, 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 + the royal palace and the island next to it with the semi-round Parliament building.

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

A famous 90 cm staircase street where I didn't bother waiting my turn to photograph an empty here it is with some enthusiast unknown tourists posing :p

Friday, April 24, 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, April 23, 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, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 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, April 19, 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, April 18, 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, April 17, 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.