Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Toddler Music Birthday Celebration

Today was the weekly toddler music group meeting, but with a birthday twist. Arleigh celebrated with his closest friends, who are all of an entire two years of age.

With little time to prep, the cake was a very quick fix train, carrying a truckload of fresh fruits.  Easy enough, a knife and ready made pound cake (Thank you Sara Lee), were all that was needed to make this cake a hit with the kids.

 These are his little friends. The buddies who wait for their siblings at school pick up too.

The kids who sing songs and play with Arleigh each week. No better group to celebrate an upcoming two year old birthday.

Unfortunately, we only had one candle on hand, but it was more than enough for the little guy to blow out.
We'll make sure by his real birthday there are two big candles on his cake.

Rid of Fruit Flies

Last week, for unknown reasons, we had an invasion of fruit flies in the house. Primarily flying around the kitchen, they seemed to be fluttering around our faces as if wiggling their wings to say "nah nah- nah! Can't catch me!" We stored all the fruit and food away in the fridge, cleaned the counter tops with Clorox, and yet they still seemed to swarm.

After a little online research, a few bowls filled with cider vinegar and soap came to the rescue. I'm sharing the fruit fly solution with you here because it was a cheap, easy, and incredibly fast cure for our kitchen woes.

1 cup cider vinegar in a glass bowl

1 teaspoonful of dish soap poured into the bowl of vinegar

Within 15 minutes the bowls filled with the fruit flies.
What a delightful surprise to see the solution work so quickly!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

For the Sake of Remembering

Once upon a time, there was a dear, dear sweet but disgruntled husband who said he must invest in an additional hard drive to store all of his wife's precious memories. He cringed at the idea of adding another terabyte simply to be filled up with photos. He scoffed at the cost of computer memory, space, external drives.
His wife told him, ‘I don’t care. Find a way.
I want to remember…

Those shoes.

Those tiny, busy, hands.

The deep little dimples.

The smiles. Oh God! Their innocent smiles.

The toys. The trains. The setting up.
The dress up. And cleaning up.

Freeze dance. The joy of their movement.

The stillness of naptime.
The cuddles. The hugs. The sloppy, wet, open, mouth toddler kisses.
Bun Bun, and the entire box of chocolate I ate when I thought Bun Bun was gone forever.

The garden.
The playground.
The walks to school.
The bedtime stories.

I want them to remember the details, and detours.

I want them to remember the safety of home, while a war rages on the other side of the world.

I want them to remember our three simple governing family rules and use them the rest of their lives… (“People are not for hurting.” “Everything has a proper place.” and “Conflict is resolved by talking”)

I want them to remember tickles. Hide-n-go-seek. Tic-tac-toe.
I want them to remember castles, cultures, and camping.

I want them to remember their family.'

So, that dear, dear, sweet but disgruntled husband found a way. He invested in another external hard drive.
He forced a smile when his wife said, “oh! I snapped another 400 gazillion photos today!” He relished in the memory of those 4 people who consumed their minds and hearts each and every day. He added memory, and space, and hard drives, and photos, for his wife. For the sake of remembering.


Any mom can tell you, at some point in parenthood, random becomes the norm.
Odd isn't necessarily all that odd anymore.
There are moms out there who boast t-shirts that read "You don't scare me, I live with a 3 year old."
Sad but true, on both accounts.
Kids can send any parent to the point of no return. But someone's gotta have imagination eh?

Case in point. A few things, in random order, found around the house in the past week.

from left to right
1. Sock in the fridge (they blame Arleigh)
2. fire extinguisher and Popsicle in wipes box (offering cooling relief?)
3. pizza and egg in plate cabinet (not what's for dinner, unfortunately)
4. tea cup hanging on fireplace tools (perhaps for dousing)
5. toy firemen and police on guard on lamp (good thing cause that lamps is mom's favorite)
6. parrot in rose bush (in a few months that'll be the partridge in a pear tree perhaps)
7. race car in gramophone horn (no Bose speakers necessary)
8. apparently there are angels among us (go figure -Stella)
9. robot hangs in outer space from lamp (if that robot could talk- man the stories he'd tell the fly on the wall!)
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Curious about Cartwheels

Firstly, I am not losing it. I am not drunk. I am not suffering from anything that I know of,
(...perhaps a little sleep deprivation, but aren't we all?)
I am not prepping for some feminine hygiene commercial.
I am not manic. Or depressive.
I am not bored.
I am just curious.
Dinner was made. House in decent order.
Arleigh fed. Kids at school.
We were playing outside,
and I just wanted to see if I could do a cartwheel.
Just curious.
I definitely questioned it. Definitely questioned what dear hubby might say when he saw this one.
 Questioned what might happen if I fall on my face, or wrist.
But now we know.

Cartwheels still possible.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Car Free Sunday in Brussels

It was Car Free Sunday in Brussels today.Once more, the Brussels-Capital Region dedicated its 160km2 to sustainable mobility. The STIB public transport network ran free of charge, granting an opportunity to test and combine several means of transport: bus, metro, walking, roller-skating, biking. You name it! The Car Free Day aims towards goals of changing attitudes, opening a public debate on urban mobility, reducing noise, and pollution. Roads were shut down within the city ring and a very limited number of cars were allowed to drive within the city most of the day.
We took advantage of Car Free Sunday and hopped on the bikes to ride straight into Brussels to visit our fabulous friends, the Benoits.

The kids were real troopers - about 13 miles round trip.

Those same troopers were met with the typical spoiling from Mr. James and Miss Alina.
Pizza, chocolate, movies, attention all around, and even a dominoes tournament of sorts with Mr. James. (Thanks again you guys!)

When we finally gathered our things and headed home, cars were already lining up to get back on the road. We saw a large variety of mobility, from rollerbladers (and those trying), walkers, bikers, runners, to a guy with two poles and a skateboard strapped on each foot, fashioned as a skier,
 to a kid decked out with huge goggles as he peddled his go kart.

For us, it seemed, Car Free Sunday was a success!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wooo-hoooo! Mission Accomplished!

She did it! She read her list of books for a new bike.
Awesome job Stella-bo-bella!
Now get out there and burn some tread off those new wheels!
(and then come back to turn a few more pages in your next book...)
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Garden Harvest

We didn't do so well this year in the garden.
The saying seems true in gardening, 'the effort you put into it is what you'll get out of it'.
We put little into the garden this year, and got little back.
The snails got the rest!
Some onions, green beans, potatoes, herbs, but the rest is going to be history,
as weeds have taken over and the cold is setting in.
Hopefully next year we can be more attentive to the garden and perhaps only then it will love us back.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Lose Hope.

A friend recently found out she was pregnant. I was honored to be able to share in her hopeful anticipation, as she was thrilled to be expecting.

This week however, that all came to a sad end, and she is suffering a miscarriage. Devastated to have been through this twice myself, her pain reaches the furthest depth of my soul. The loss is very real, and truly upsetting. She says she’s giving up- no more trying. Done. Fini.
The advice the doctor muttered to me several years ago, (apparently never having suffered a miscarriage of her own) was, “This will make you stronger. You’ll be much better for it. You’ll see.”
I dare not repeat such stupid words to a struggling friend.
I’ve never felt better for having suffered a miscarriage. I will never feel stronger for the loss. I will never say I am better for it.

Instead, “time” I encouraged my troubled friend. Time. And don’t lose hope.

Now, here he is. My buddy. My shadow. He’s a walking, talking, anthem for what started from barely a shred of hope.
Dare I say, be careful what you wish for,…but keep on wishing.
 Don’t lose hope.

2, 3 4, years from now, you may be surprised.

You may find yourself contemplating the attributes of every little digger and dump truck this side of China.

You may be dealing with a little one who's sometimes really frustrated, and not sure how to handle big emotions in a small body.
So, in time, you may find yourself wiping up tears, and then picking up toys.

You just may be smiling at a toddler who makes your heart chuckle.


You may be wondering what you should make for lunch, because a tiny tummy is hungry...

Easier said than done, yet,
for the sake of what just might be, don’t lose hope.
Time will sort things out.

Weekend Chores

The weekend chores started out with a conversation that went something like "yes Matt, I think it would be good for Emory to help you clean the car. That's a good daddy/son kinda job, and hopefully he'll take pride and try to help keep it clean inside if he is made part of cleaning the car."
Without further ado, but reluctantly, Emory was taken outside to help vac and wash the car. It all seemed to be going well for everyone, until little brother, Arleigh, woke up and mamma let him out of the crib.

Then this happened...

and this...

Now daddy has another chore- give Arleigh a bath and change his clothes.
Daddy would tell you that his chore list is never complete, and the honey-dos continue to grow.
Perhaps we know why?

Violin Stage

The girls had a violin stage (sounds like "Sta-jjj")  this weekend. A stage is something like a workshop, or camp where a particular subject matter is focused upon. There are all sorts of stages- arts, sports, language, dance, you name it, there's a stage for it. During holidays, if a family is not traveling, often, the children will enter a stage.
Madame Francine had asked the girls to participate in a violin stage this weekend. The primary focus was getting back in tune on the violin after the summer vacation, but instead of playing the violin all weekend, the stage theme was "France". They painted, read books on France, ate French food, put on a play in French costume, and of course, practiced violin.
Matt and I were just discussing how of all the kids taking violin, Addie seems the most naturally talented. She truly enjoys practicing, learning new songs, listening to violin, and going to lessons.
Stella and Emory aren't far behind, but if someone sat on their violins tomorrow, I don't think they would shed tears. We'll see how the year progresses. You never know eh?

Mamma's Got a New Ride

My bike was stolen from the metro station when Julia, the NATO intern, borrowed it this summer.
What a bummer.
The lack of a bike Stateside, wouldn't not be such a problem, but the lack of a bike here in Belgium creates quite a troublesome dilemma.
Most folks bike, at least somewhere, sometime, during the week here. It makes sense. It's often faster, easier (great bike paths and lanes laid out everywhere), and saves a ton on parking.
We needed a good way to save time on the 3km trek to school too.
The solution...

I'm loving' it, though the speedster behind me seems a little nervous.

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