We'll get some 1 year photos up on this little guy. For now though, he's not feeling well. He was diagnosed today, after three tough weeks, with a sinus infection. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery, and to have antibiotics complete by the time we celebrate a birthday!
I found this video while searching for something for the kids. Stella is currently incredibly interested in a World Atlas National Geographic Book which she received from Santa last year. As I was perusing the National Geographic website, I came across this. The girl in this video cannot be much older than my own girls, but no doubt, she has been forced to age more quickly. If anything, this should make you think twice about Christmas this year.
Ok, seriously, some of the ads border on pornographic I swear! This one is for the Bozar, an art gallery which rotates exhibits fairly frequently. The "Sexties" exhibit is apparently coming soon. (better not miss this one!) The kids don't miss a thing either. "Hey mom, what's she doing like that? Won't she get cold?"
With an annual zoo pass comes an entrance to this large but quaint little park which educates on life in Flanders hundreds of years ago. Wooden clogs, windmills, gardens, all added to the charm of this beautiful countryside park.
Miss Alina joined us for the trip and we were so glad to have her along.
Though as Matt mentioned, one of these days, she's going to
realize what she's getting herself into- and start making excuses not to come along!
Thanks again Miss Alina!
We didn't cover even half of this vast park on our visit, and so, as always, we left saying "we must go back".
The park had various homes and village buildings set up for visitors to walk through and explore. This particular scene really captured my eye, as it appeared to me as a room right out of the Van Gogh painting called "The Potato Eaters". In this home, Emory kindly demonstrated how to churn butter. One of the main objectives for our trip was to expose the kids to older ways. We wanted them to understand that we take a lot of modern conviences for granted.
All the homes had a rack full of dulled and worn pottery and ceramics whose colors had faded but retained an earthy character.
Actors in traditional dress could be seen throughout the villages and would chat about their daily life back in the times.
The ladies were particularly interesting, and we came upon this women working on a large cross stitch project.
This woman was making a table full of apple and rhubarb pies which looked delicious. Her counterpart was in the bake house, prepping a clay oven to bake the pies. Too bad we didn't have time to stay for dinner!
They started violin lessons this week. Aunt Karen, Brad- thank you! I do believe holding out to find a Suzuki method teacher (who can speak English) was an incredible and profound piece of advice. You are both invited to their first stage performance :) Madame Francine was wonderful, kind, and more patient than a saint. She taught the class in French, and used English when necessary (those moments when the kids or I were staring at her blankly). One mother thought it was wonderful to have the children taught in two languages, as this way she got lessons "two for one....violin and language". All I know is that the kids want to do nothing else right now, other than repeat their lesson in practice. So, there's a lot of squeaking goin' on!
Regretfully, 5 area rugs did not arrive in our final shipment. This is quite depressing, as we really liked the rugs we had and we looked forward to placing those area rugs down on the cold tile floors here. Apparently someone else is glad to have them now. The seal on the container was still in tact, but our movers could not find the area rugs as listed on the inventory sheet. They suspect the container was broken into and the rugs removed sometime during its storage period.
Certainly, we're grateful for the things we do have. In the meantime, I guess we'll start the claims process. There's little more, so fun in this life, than filing claims for lost or stolen goods.
One of his newest tricks is to sneak to the stairs and climb up as quickly as he can. We have a pressure baby gate at the bottom, but occasionally, it's not put up properly and Arleigh always seems to let us know. (no worries, someone always climbs up right behind him to be sure he doesn't slip) Then, once he reaches the top of the stairs, he grabs whatever toys he can find and then tosses them under the baby gate, to roll, and bounce, and bang all over the stairs until they hit the floor below.
We'll see how long it takes him to figure out how to maneuver back down.
In the meantime, even his siblings seem to have trouble keeping him in one place. They often try to keep him contained so they can play with him, like Stella did in this "pillow fort".
What new tricks will he have up his sleeve next month? Not sure I want to know?!?
I love the new school, and the kids do too. As one of the Belgian parents emphasized to me, "Belgians have a way of life. It is not too busy. It is more with the family and getting outdoors. It is a way of life to enjoy life." He couldn't have said it better really. Belgians do have a 'way of life' and it truly is built around enjoying life, family, and nature. This week, school classes took the kids to an orchard, had them pick fruit and press apples to make juice. When I told the girls they would be visiting an orchard, they had no idea what an orchard was. They had never picked apples from a tree, let alone plums. As excited to see the them learn to snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Guam, I was thrilled to hear they would visit a farm, pick fruit and make something of their trip. Addie reported she was allowed to pet some sheep as well. For those of you who have been able to visit a petting zoo with your kids, or take a trip on any given day to the zoo, this is like opening the barn doors- we have a lot to catch up on. We were told to send a jar with a lid into school yesterday. Addie returned home after school talking non stop about making 'Confiturede la Plumes'. Bon Appetite! We celebrated their hard work with toast this morning, topped with Addie's special jam for breakfast. It really was a delicious treat!
Perhaps you've seen this newspaper article already. I've been prompted to post the following article because recently, I found myself explaining away that I am simply quite a busy person with small folks in tow. Nothing more or less. They come first, and everything else falls behind that. For goodness sakes, don't get your panties in a bunch. There's no reason to judge, or second guess why I haven't called. Honestly nothing else really matters beyond family at the end of the day. Please, take no offense. I'm just plain busy.
If you can't read the article due to the size, I have copied and pasted it here so that you can get the complete content.
"My best friend has a child. Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .
OK. I've done Internet searches; I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners. . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them every day. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day, and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail?
I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events), and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth?
Is this a contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids, and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions."
— Tacoma, Wash.
"Relax and enjoy. You're funny. Or you're lying about having friends with kids. Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them. Internet searches? I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand — while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you — is disingenuous indeed. So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries and questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15. It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier. It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family members and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting the constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense. It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything. It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy — and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, you wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend — a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel at how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself." -Carolyn Hax
So, under the advice and encouragement of others, I'm adding a copyright statement to the family blog. Ridiculous really. I don't really mind if someone wants to use a photo. Actually it's always a bit flattering when someone asks. I don't mind at all, but just ask! Simple manners. This all came about because I stumbled upon my photos, which had been posted on the blog, being used here in Europe by someone making travel ads. He did site the blog; fair enough. But I realized that our kids could show up on a billboard in the Philippines with some strange photo shopped monster streaming from their noses, if I didn't at least try to persuade borrowers to at least ask first. I'm going to say yes, of course. I'm going to let you use the photo. I'll probably even offer to mail you a copy on disc. So just ask. It's a bit like RSVP- just do it. RSVP to that party. It's not hard, and it's the right thing to do- to let the hostess know you're not going to attend, or better yet, that you will show up. Please. I'm a nice person. I don't bite. Just ask.
This blog site CONTENT, Hillsnapshot, is owned and operated by Mandy Hill and/or its content providers. All of the content shown on this site, including, but not limited to photographs, images, text are the exclusive intellectual property of Mandy Hill and/or its content providers. The Content is protected by US and international copyrights. All Content may be used, without malicious intent, for the sole purpose of supporting traditional blog activities and may be shared, linked or reposted to third party sites as intended. No Content however, may be downloaded, copied, reproduced, republished, manipulated, altered or distributed in any way for commercial purposes, without Mandy Hill's written permission and/or a payment of a fee or other arrangement. These images are NOT ROYALTY FREE and are NOT WITHIN the PUBLIC DOMAIN. You may only view the Content for your personal, non commercial use. Use of the content for any other purpose, including but not limited to use of the Content as the basis for another photographic concept or story concept, is a violation of Mandy Hill's copyrights and or its content providers. Those interested in licensing images seen here can reach Mandy Hill at email@example.com. In the event of an infringement of these user agreement terms, you will be notified and invoiced the industry standard Triple Fee for unauthorized usage and/or prosecuted for Copyright violations.