Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back to Reality

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

I'm currently dealing with jet lag, so this was the best I could do for today. I'm missing our friends in Belgium and haven't been able to catch them on Skype. My house is a wreck and I feel paralyzed by it right now. However, it's great to see our cat and our friends and mostly I'm glad to be home. I'm just ready to pitch everything in our house out the window right now and start fresh. I'll chalk it up to jet lag and tomorrow or Tuesday I'm sure I'll have the energy to whip this place into shape. A girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Missing Belgium Already

We head for home on Friday but I've already become very sentimental about leaving. We've had a wonderful stay and although I haven't blogged about it too much, I'm sure it will be fodder for future posts.

For now, I'll just post about a few of the things I'll miss once we leave...

The backyard and garden where Buttons played with C & J's grandchildren. (I'm hoping to get permission to put their pictures on here as well.) Many good times were spent over a cup of coffee or a beer (or two) chatting with C & J about Belgium, the U.S., parenting, gardens, politics, religion and food, of course. We even helped plant a few of the flowers and hung our laundry out there on occasion. Yes, we lived in their backyard.

Just beyond the backyard is farmland that holds many surprises, like hot air balloons and the braying of horses so close I thought they were going to sit down for dinner with us. There are sounds of birds, the glimmer of leaves blowing in the wind and the smell of the cows. (Buttons took to saying the cows were "ripe" after I told her that once.)

Pictured here tending the garden, J gave us thoughts on places to visit, provided maps to get us there and offered a new Belgian beer for us to try quite often.

Pictured here with the girl who isn't always easy to please, C made sure Buttons would enjoy her stay. We went swimming nearly every week and C also invited her grandchildren over quite often and we all had good laughs.

Both C & J went above and beyond to provide us with not only our needs, but companionship and warmth. We went to the Netherlands, Paris, Brugge, Ghent, Antwerp and St. Petersburg, but as you may have guessed, we will miss C & J and their family most of all. We've been invited to their son's wedding and I would really like to come back and celebrate with them. We've invited C & J and their son, soon-to-be daughter-in-law and grandchildren to visit us back in the USA. If I can't make all of my friends and family from the States move here at least I can have my Belgium family come and visit me there. Perhaps they'll decide to live in the U.S.?

It's been a wonderful journey and I'm not sure I really want it to end yet. And Buttons? She's struggling with leaving and staying just like I am. One minute she wants to see our cat at home and the next minute she doesn't want to see her "never again" because that means leaving our friends here. It's been a wonderful journey and I'm not sure I really want it to end yet.

But here comes reality... I'm off to finish packing.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WWII Rememberance

On our way to Germany this weekend with our hosts/friends C&J we visited the Henri Chapelle American Military Cemetary and Memorial for the soldiers who died in The Battle of the Bulge.
Back in the USA, Buttons and I go to story time at a local library where Miss R. reads to the children and does crafts with them as well. Shortly before we left, Buttons shared with the group that she was going to Belgium. Miss R. came to us later to inquire about our trip and told us that she'd like to go someday because her grandfather was buried in Belgium after dying in the Battle of the Bulge.
I asked her for the information on where he was buried and told her if at all possible I would try to visit his grave. This was in part for Miss R. who has been so good to Buttons, but I also wanted to pay my respects to the men and women who lost their lives and never came home.
We did visit his grave and the woman who worked there helped us well past closing time. She was kind and I could tell she really cared about the people who were buried here and their families back in the USA. We were given a packet of information to carry back to Miss R. which included a request for a picture of each of the men here so that the memorial could be personalized and live on for many generations. Then the woman took us to the grave sight, placed a Belgian flag and an American flag in front of his cross and then rubbed sand from the beaches of Normandy in the embedded name on the cross so it would show in pictures. C & J, our traveling companions, remembered to bring 2 white roses from their beautiful garden and I said a prayer as Miss R's mother had requested.
This place is beautiful and peaceful now. It's hard to imagine the pain and suffering that took place here 63 years ago, but when you look at the white crosses and the stars of David you don't forget. After the soldiers died, the families were given the choice of whether to bring their loved ones home or to have them buried here. I imagine I would have wanted to bring my loved one home, but having this site is an important remembrance and so I think I understand why many made the choice for a burial here.
After our visit it seemed a bit strange to head to Germany for our weekend of tasting wines on the Mosel, but thanks to the courage of these men and women along with many others, that's what we were able to do.

On our way back we visited Bastogne and the Mardasson Memorial. We took a tour through the museum and watched a film devoted to the Seige at Bastogne. The citizens of Bastogne were very kind to the soldiers by giving them shelter, providing sheets to use as winter camouflage, supplying food, hiding guns, ammunition, and sometimes soldiers. I have found that the hospitality of the Belgian people continues to this day. I wish these men and women didn't have to die, but I am glad to know some of their last moments were spent in a country so beautiful and welcoming.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Hubby is really a wonderful father and he's a sweet husband as well. So sweet in fact he didn't mind I forgot to wish him a happy father's day until 11:45 pm when I finally remembered while we were watching the news. We spent the weekend visiting Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and two WWII memorials with our hosts/friends C & J so I guess I have a wee bit of an excuse. So, I feel like a loser but I'm definitely a winner with the kind of guy I have by my side helping me with this crazy parenting roller coaster.

Happy Father's Day a little late, honey.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Just for the Taste of It...

There will indeed be a post about Russia, but we're getting ready to go to Germany with our hosts and friends C & J. So, in the meantime, please enjoy a picture of a vending machine we found in the Brussels airport on our way to Russia (click on the pic for a larger view). Hubby of course made the comment that titles this post. Just in case you aren't familiar there is a famous statue in Brussels that looks like this. I love the humor of the Manneke pis, but I don't want his stuff in my Coke.

By the way, we're going home a week from today(wow!). As you can probably tell, I'm going to miss Belgium very much. Buttons will miss it too, but she is very homesick. If you have any ideas on making it easier for me to leave or helping Buttons get through this last week with homesickness, let me know.

Ok, the Secret Pal question of the week is this:
What's your favorite summertime drink?
On a hot day it's either gonna be a gin and tonic or a very cold, good (Belgian) beer. Most often you'll find me drinking home brewed ice tea of varying flavors. (I have an ice tea maker!)


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


Friday, June 06, 2008

To Russia, with Love

We're off to St. Petersburg, Russia this weekend. I'm still pinching myself. I'm old enough to remember the cold war and the iron curtain, so to actually go to Russia is a bit amazing and surreal. I'm in the midst of packing for it and I still can't believe it.

(Bye for now!)

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The Anniversary Night

First off, let me say thank you for all of your anniversary wishes and your lovely comments about our picture. That was taken by a lovely couple with a small child who returned the favor for us in Brugge, Belgium. Buttons was supposed to be in the picture as well, but she just was not in the mood. And since there are so few pictures of Hubby and me I was satisfied.

Life is good and on this blog I mostly highlight those experiences. Oh, life is still good but sometimes there are blips and I feel I should post about those too. Perhaps by the title of the post you thought this would be X-rated. Let me assure you it won't be.

On the day of our anniversary, I went with Buttons to an inside playground with the grandchildren of our hosts and C, their grandma (boma -sp?)). I figured Buttons would enjoy it and she wouldn't have a nap but would be tired enough to go to sleep right after we came home from our lovely dinner.
Instead, I fell asleep while I was putting her to bed. Buttons woke me up around 10:30 by screaming, then she fell asleep again. Then she woke up inconsolable and hubby went in for at least 45 minutes to calm her down. After she settled down, Hubby was tired and went to bed.

At that point I was very awake and needed a bit of unwind time. I found "Minority Report" on the BBC: a decent movie in English! So, I watched until Buttons screamed, then settled after I went in, screamed again then settled after I went in and the next time she screamed I tried to wake her up a bit to talk and find out what was wrong.

"I miss my friends and I miss my cat." Yes, my girl is very homesick and it's showing up all over the place, but most prominently in her bed. So, I decide that for her sake I will sleep with her in the double bed. I also decide that while not the typical way to spend an anniversary night, Hubby may consider it a gift to get some sleep before he goes to work in the morning.

So on our anniversary night I slept next to my kicking daughter who shouted at me and did not appreciate what I thought to be a good thing. Hubby did appreciate the sleep and Buttons was in a good mood when she woke up in the morning so it did work as a bit of a gift. However we were all sleepy and so after taking a nap yesterday I thought Buttons would not be over-tired for bed time. Yeah, she wasn't even tired and didn't go to sleep until around 11pm.

So, the anniversary night didn't go as planned, but it did include all of us and I wouldn't change having the family I do.

By the way, C & J (our hosts) offered to watch Buttons for us so Hubby and I could go out and while I trust them completely, Buttons is just too anxious about being without us here for that to work.
Of course, as it turned out she didn't get much sleep anyway.

The good news is that in July, we're going to my step-brother's wedding in Michigan and Hubby and I will go to Stratford, Ontario for 2 nights while Buttons stays and plays with my mom, her partner, their two dogs and their new puppy! I'm going to miss Buttons very much, but I am looking forward to having a different sort of anniversary night.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 4th

14 years ago today we said I do.
I'm so glad we did.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008


I have this great book on blogging called No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog so I probably shouldn't post about this but I'm super psyched about my new "recipe" for soup.
Steam carrots, red pepper, onion and a peeled apple until quite soft and remove skins from the red pepper. Put in the steaming water and add a bit of water. Next, either put it in a blender or use one of these puppies until smooth.

Next, add two of the Maggi Bouillons "Groenten Met Kruiden" (vegetables with herbs), which I am almost positive you can't get in the U.S. (durn). Warm it up and then add some Creme Fraiche/Verse Room until it's as creamy as you desire.

Now, grab a bowl and eat it with your favorite Belgium beer. The one we drank it with was a gift from C&J when we had them up for dinner. They described it as a kind of wine and while it does have some vino qualities, it also reminds me of hard cider as well. It was wonderful and the soup was delicious if I do say so myself.
We went to Brugge/Bruge this weekend and I'll have to fill you in later. We enjoyed ourselves, but have realized that Buttons is really quite homesick.
We're back in less than 3 weeks, but if y'all have any ideas on how to help her, please let me know.

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