My 2019 review
I started previous year literally with tears in my eyes. The months before I had realised that my dad's health had deteriorated in such a way that we could no longer give care for him at home. I knew we'd need to make decisions, I knew 2019 would be a turning point...fortunately I didn't know yet in which degree it all would change.
The first weekends were filled with family visits and friend's visits to read the New Years letters. Murphy seemed to mess with our planning since we were not in the Ardennes when it was snowing , had cancelled plans due to children that were ill, birthdayparties that got cancelled etc. So we improvised, played, had unexpected opportunities to go to the zoo etc...
Half the household was ill early 2019 but I brought some pancakes home to my parents. I couldn't discuss it back then, but I knew very well it was the last time I spent time with my father at home, so that was a very emotional visit.
We spent several more weekends in Leuven where we saw the celebrations for the Chinese New Year and where some glorious hot early Spring weekend brought out all the beauty in the botanical gardens. In the mean time I commuted back and forth to my home town to assist my mother who had had cataract surgery while my dad was taken in some short-term care residence.
We combined some family visits with a short visit and hotel stay in Bruges which gave us the glorious feeling of a true small city trip...something to be repeated
In the spring vacation weekends we were in the Ardennes and we crossed the border to visit a nice wildlife center Hellenthal in the Eifel in Germany.
At the end of the month I spent half a day of doing volunteering work with my colleagues. We also joined a party for Mobile School to celebrate the International Day of the Streetchild on April 12th.
In April we enjoyed some trips and excursions but also simple time at the nearby playgrounds to enjoy the weather turning into an early Summer. We also went to visit the Zoo in Antwerp.
Inspired by our trip to Bruges, we enjoyed a weekend in Hasselt in the long Easter weekend. Those days we also drove up to Maastricht to meet-up with good American friends. It was a fabulous trip that I needed to find some new oxygen after emotionally draining weeks where we had to decide and move my father to a permanent care center and where at the same days more bad health news dropped in the family. Looking back, I realise I was nearly collapsing end of April but that long weekend in Hasselt / Maastricht was a good escape to forget all worries for a moment.
By May we were back in the routine of harvesting our vegetables at the CSA farm. In the Ardennes we took out our bikes to go for some rides with the entire family.
By the end of May however I returned to my 2nd home country Canada for a marvelous unforgettable roadtrip through Alberta and British Columbia circling the Rocky Mountains and getting reunited with many old school friends and host families.
In June we were still traveling and we spent a week near my beloved Kootenay Lake close to my host families and friends...the Kootenays, my home across the Atlantic. Leaving it behind again was very very hard.
We were back in the country, in time for Kabouter to finish kindergarden.
We escaped some heat waves by traveling to Ardennes were it usually is a little bit cooler...but the summer of 2019 was even almost too hot over there. What a scary heat was that? 42C! It was too much.
My mother came to visit for a sleep-over, now she was no longer full-time responsible for my dad's care which allowed her to bond with the children and see where they attended the playground in the summer.
At the end of the month we were shocked however by losing Saskia from Mobile School. We've given her a #duwmee parade funeral through Leuven which was very touching.
We went to a concert of Kapitein Winokio with the children. And Jan and his brother organised a big family BBQ for all their cousins, which ended abruptly for me and the children since I had to rush home with a crying Kabouter who had all of a sudden a very painful ear infection.
On August 24th we were on our way to visit my mother (where Kabouter had been visiting for a couple of days) and then celebrate my nephew's birthday all together. Then we got the phone call in the car that changed everything. I lost my father on a moment I did not expect it at all. And then the world seems to stop for a while, at least to me.
I was still in a confused waze when apparently the summer was over, another heat wave had happened and the children had to return to school where Kabouter started in grade 1.
Mid September Jan and I left for the first time since we have children for a weekend away with the 2 of us. It was a late 10 year anniversary weekend planned months before, but now it felt very inappropriate to leave. My mind was not ready for this and yet it was just what I needed. We spent the weekend in The Hague and Scheveningen where we met 18 years ago and just enjoyed the sun.
In October I fled many weekends to the Ardennes. I needed the quietness of the nature even if that meant forcing the entire family to walk with me in the pouring rain.
During the volunteering weekend of Mobile School, we worked hard to prepare Duwmee 2019.
We started November traditionally with a few days in the sun in Gran Canaria, to suck up some more heat before we returned to the cold dark days of the Belgium autumn and winter.
On nov 11, I attended a St Martin bonfire.
The children were getting excited about Sinterklaas and Dec 6th approaching.
We spent a long weekend in Disneyland Paris when the children had a schoolfree Monday.
I suffered from a lot of nasty colds but enjoyed the beguinage of Leuven being lighted up by candlelight.
Just before Christmas we participated in #duwmee 2019 . And then we were ready to celebrate Christmas (and I got ill again).