Monday, May 29, 2017

Sliding down on a Cars (!) slide

Beertje is a climbing monster and he has no fear. He climbs on anything, the only way is up. Kabouter on the other hand only dared to climb slides on his own since he's 3. 

Since this spring we have a tiny slide in Leuven and it is a big succes for both boys. For that reason we've now purchased another small slide for the Ardennes and once again, it's a huge succes. I have to patrol the "each on their turn" to avoid fights. Beertje simply climbs when someone is on the top of the slide and doesn't go down quick enough.

A cars slide!! Let me show how to use it

Ok ok, my turn, let me test what is the best way to use it.

Hey move on, it's my turn. you are supposed to slide down. HEEEEYYY go down, I'm here already. It's MY turn, push, go down NOW. 

I'm the king of  the world

Sunday, May 28, 2017

It's not good enough

I spent a few more hours painting the first layer of wall paint on the attic yesterday but I kept spending time fixing more plaster issues: sanding some edges smooth or filling more holes that I had missed yesterday.

And yet it remained frustrating to paint...but isn't that always the case when you are with your eyes at 5 cms of the wall focussing on everything? Hell, I can point out a dozen imperfections in each of our rooms in Leuven and the Ardennes which we all renovated in the past.  But the thing is: once you put furniture in it and you start living in it, you don't see those small errors again. And you hope visitors don't see it either.

When Jan finally had a moment that Kabouter was playing by himself he joined me...and started sanding, and plastering and cursing as well. After 30 minutes he cursed "It's not good enough.  This is ugly." I cursed because I hoped the imperfections would be invisible to others. I cursed because I had been spending so much time in it already on my own during this long summer weekend where I could have been just outside in the garden enjoying myself.  I cursed because that meant my planning shattered to pieces on the floor.

Where I knew that my plan to do all the painting this weekend was an optimistic illusion, I still hoped to have Kabouter's room ready in July (and thereby liberating the guest room to guests again, allowing me to invite people over).  Now we'll need to spend more weekends sanding and plastering or using a fiberglass wallpaper (which is no miracle either and it doesn't look very cool but we've used it downstairs for the same reasons). And then I didn't plan the flooring yet.  Ugh....much more work and much more delays and more summer weekends that are spoiled due to work to be done. And getting work done with 2 little children running around is hard enough.

And then we still depend urgently on the carpenter to finish the doors and the frames around the roof windows so we can truly advance. 
Ugh, allow me to curse a bit more.  Bleh bleh bleh.

But having it all in primer is not a waisted effort at all. And at least I can spend today in the sun the entire day without feeling the discipline duty to work as soon as Beertje goes to nap (provided the sun returns from behind the clouds today)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Playing with the neighbours

I spent my childhood on our street, playing outdoors with some neighbourhood children.  Our playground was the street and most gardens from the neighbourhood.  We yelled for each other to come outside for the entire street to hear (as ringing each other doorbell would be too intrusive so we believed).

I feel so blessed now to see Kabouter play outdoors with the neighbour boy in the Ardennes. They run from our garden to the their garden and back and talk to each other in a mix of Dutch/French/German. The conversations can be full of misunderstandings or 2 parallel stories, each in one language. Yet they seem to understand the most essential.

But when they get out they yell for each other "Kom" "Kommen"  is close enough in Dutch and German.  "Du musst kommen mit dein maillot" is the sound that comes from the other side. With our hint, Kabouter interrupts his lunch to go and yell at the driveway "Ik moet ESSEN, ik kom straks!".

Friday, May 26, 2017


We're not only here to enjoy the sun in a lazy long weekend...we are also here to use each naptime effectively to get some painting in the attic done so that hopefully this summer we can start using these rooms at one point, preferably sooner than later. 

The swimming pool phases

Phase 1:  the illusion

It was a lovely day out, but it wasn't very hot yet in the shade (and wind) in our backyard.

"Get a few buckets with warm water and put it in their pool shell so they can play", Jan said while he was cutting the grass
"I believe it's still too cold to go in the pool.", I replied
"Oh, they won't go in, they'll just fill cups or so", he said
"If that's what you believe...."

Phase 2: Told you so
A few minutes later I found this situation when I came out of the bathroom.
I brought a dripping wet baby to his dad with a big "told you so" smile on my face.

Phase 3: adapt to the reality

So if they'd not stay out of the pool, I'd better get them dressed to go in the pool. But it truly was chilly in the shade.  So we quickly moved the whole thing into the sun where they could have water fun

Phase 4: the warming up hugging

they play and play and play...and all of a sudden both of them are miserable: they are cold. So then you can only roll them up in towels, squeeze them all on your knee and do a long family hug.  As long as they sit still and enjoy the hug, they are warming up....Once they wiggle of your knee again, they are warm again. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Singing and dancing children

Last Sunday, we almost didn't go to the Canteclaer parade for the simple reason that we just wanted to spend a lazy afternoon in the sun and it was really gorgeous out in my parent's garden.

The kids were having a good time: Beertje enjoys climbing up and down and up and down any staircase endlessly  while Kabouter engineered some submarines and entertained us all with singing and dancing. It was nice to have a relax moment together with the family.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Last night in Leuven, not Manchester

1 AM 

I sit with Beertje in my arms on the edge of my bed, feeding him back to sleep. I curse because the warm weather apparently makes him drink more frequently again while I was just cheering the fact that he finally seemed to start sleeping long blocks at night, only drinking once.

As usual I grab my phone to log the feeding in an app and I see a push alert of breaking news on an explosion in Manchester. I curse, I push it away, I don't want to see such stuff in the middle of the night, but it's too late... I am aware. While reading a tweet reply that it was something in the backstage, I hush myself and turn off my phone again.

I sit with the sleeping Beertje in my arms for a while and I watch his face.  He has the cutest round cheeks.

4.10 AM

Beertje is awake again and I couldn't resist picking up my phone again. More push alerts are on the main screen which leave no doubt that there are many casualties due to a terror attack.
I rock my baby and watch him. I turn on the webcam to watch Kabouter sleep for a short moment. My little world.

I remember being sleepless during the Bataclan attacks end 2015, feeling nausea and fear, watching Kabouter asleep as well while rubbing my big pregnant belly. I worried in which world they'd grow up. I felt very distressed.
So much has happened since then: #prayforIstanbul,  #prayforBrussels, #prayforNice, #PrayforStockholm, #prayforBerlin, #prayforParis, #prayforLondon, .... I'm shocked when I realise that all has happened in Europe withing the last 1,5 year.

I think about the 2 busy parades where we were last weekend, where I took my children with me into the crowd without any second thought (thank goodness for that); about the loose powder gun shots that were shot in the parade from the "French army" which were extremely loud and smoky, where Jan commented that he was surprised they got permission to do so during this terror security level. (and the public just reacted really normal to those shots, thank goodness).

I see the images of the drowned toddler in Turkey, the doll of a little girl in the middle of the road in Nice, a little afraid boy in a hospital in Aleppo, crowds burning candles.

The weirdest thing is that I don't feel many emotions. Whereas the Bataclan attack had a major impact on me, right now I don't feel scared, not sad, ...just numb.

Beertje's eyes fall down heavy and he glides back to sleep in my arms. We sit together at the edge of the bed in silence.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canteclaer parade

One can never have too many parades and too many giants in one weekend, was our motto last weekend.  After the giant parade "Reuzeleuven" in Leuven on Saturday we visited my parents on the day that the 5-yearly Canteclaer parade went out in my childhood town.

We were in doubt whether we wanted to see yet another parade in the same weekend, especially since it'd be rather late.  Jan and I were simply tired, had not seen much of each other all week and simply longed to an evening at home.  I had the feeling I know the Canteclaer parade by heart: the history of Deinze, the history and the importance of the local chicken market, the epic tales of the fox Reynaert and the rooster Canteclaer.

But a parade that only leaves every 5 years is an excellent marketing tool. If it'd do so every 2 years, we surely wouldn't have gone.  But in 5 years, Kabouter would be 8,5 years already and his attitude to parades would be totally different again. And where would we be in 5 years, chances are we'd not be around.  And so you doubt. It's a big parade after all, that in its succes years in the 90ies was even broadcast live on tv.

Last minute, we left with Kabouter while my parents would babysit Beertje. While walking downtown , there were more and more people walking the same direction.  And then we saw the first groups.

We saw the history of Deinze coming by with some new aspects eg the a tribute to Lucien Buysse who won the Tour de France in 1926  and a tableau vivant of the famous local painting "De Bietenoogst" of Emile Claus

De Bietenoogst - tableau vivant after Emile Claus

The fluidity of the parade was sometimes interrupted  (and once an ambulance had to come through) but the sunny weather kept everyone cheerful.

The last traditional part of the parade about the chicken market and the tales of Reynaert and Canteclaer seemed a lot shorter than I remembered. And the float of Canteclaer itself seemed small! 

Beware of your geese (chicken) when the fox preaches