Rain & Rainbows

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It’s been way too long since I’ve posted, and, of course, a lot has happened since August.  Work is super busy, and whenever I try to upload photos to this blog it seems to take me forever no matter what I do.  In big part it’s because of my shitty wifi.  I love where I live, but it has its issues.

Since I’ve last posted, I’ve had a visit from my Al Ain neighbor Haneefa (back in August), and we had fun on a weekend trip discovering Rotterdam.

Cubed houses and interesting street art just to name a few things to find in that city.

And, we’ve gotten plenty of play time right here in Belgium.  Mons had its annual Tanks in Town event, which is always a good time.

Plus, we’ve gone to plenty of fun dinners, concerts, fests on base (including Octoberfest!) and God only knows what other local shenanigans.  There’s always something going on; I just wish I took the time to post about them while they were happening.

The weather has been literally rainbows and rain, but the temps are still lovely.  Today it’s in the 70s (fahrenheit).  It makes for a good metaphor for my life as well.  Nothing bad has happened, but it’s that time of year when I’m just so slammed with work stuff.  It never seems to end, but it’s all good.  Kids are learning, and I’m still energized by them.IMG_E1327

Although sometimes it’s a little too much zap because I’m also exhausted!

I do so love this time of year though because you can feel the shift in season.  The chill is making its way in, and the days are darker longer.  I’m also getting ready for a bunch of visitors and festivities.  My sister and part of her family arrive Oct 23, then we’re off to Germany for a bit, then Shannan arrives for a good visit, and whallah we’ve got Thanksgiving and Christmas time upon us.  Aaron arrives Dec 16, and Kaylene and her crew arrive Dec 23, sooooo I’m all a jingle with holiday planning.

All of which gave me an excuse to visit Champagne country again.  Oh, how I love Epernay and Reims as well.

When there’s so much champagne to sip, water comes in warning bottles.

I’m totally in love with my new champagne bucket/table from the ‘widow.’ Veuve Clicquot champagne is famous thanks to a woman who made the best out of her husband’s passing, so, you know, I’m totally a fan (not that I want to off my husband).

AND for all my visitors, I’m all stocked up on most excellent champagne and wine.

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Oh and there’s goodies in my fridge and cave (basement storage room) too.  Bring on the good cheer!

Badger is hanging in there, but old age is kicking his hind quarters a bit, so we’ve ordered a doggie sling for him to help when he has to use our stairs.  That’s right folks, I’m buying handles, so I can carry my dog like a suitcase.  I’ll update his blog in a bit too since we want to get as many shots of him loving life while he is.  If the doctor keeps giving him morphine, I imagine he’ll hang in for quite a bit longer.  That dog totally digs being stoned.

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He’s also a lush because he keeps wanting to go to the bar across the street from Park du Poo.

Well, I’m sorry I’ve not shared too many details this time around on our travels or expat life.  Like normal life, sometimes we’ve just gotta hunker down and focus on what pays for all that fun.

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It’s all good though when the path we’re on is loaded with colors and cobblestone — and cafe sipping.  Good God do I love cafe sipping, even in the rain.

Fingers crossed I’ll post again soon.  Cheers to all of you!

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There’s no place like home

The thing about having moved too many times to count is you’re perpetually homesick for somewhere.  This ache for a place you once called home and then the joy of revisiting it is a constant see saw of emotions and memories.

We returned to Belgium on Sunday, and we’re so glad to be back.  We missed our dog, our bed, our life here.  But, it comes at a cost because we will now go back to missing our loved ones ‘back home.’

I cherished my time with my kids, and I’m glad Joe and I got to travel around so much of the U.S. this summer.  I have not been on American soil for that long of a time since I moved overseas.  In 5 weeks we got to visit our nation’s capital, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana.  Here’s a quick rundown of our highlights.

Arizona

Staying in Phoenix in the summer at homes without pools is tough.  I missed my pool more than ever during this visit.  I’m an outdoor kind of girl who loves to sip her coffee with the birds and, well, the bees (or flies).  It’s hard to do that when you’re melting (I used to sit in my pool and sip coffee), but it’s all good I did get a little pool time in during our vacay.  Besides this trip was truly about soaking up family time, and I got to spend time in each of my children’s homes.

I also got to sip coffee outside in northern Arizona over the July 4 holiday weekend (at a lovely house we rented in Oak Creek Canyon) and another weekend in Flagstaff.  I loved that I got to whoop up the 4th with this crew!


For some reason I can no longer format the way my photos post — argh.  I’ll figure out how to fix that next post.




It was also fun visiting Flagstaff, Williams and Prescott.  It’s just way too hot to stay in Phoenix in the summer.  And, I did get to play with Torin in a pool.

Little monster is just too too cute.  I miss him dearly.

New Mexico

We drove from Flagstaff to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I got to catch up with an old friend.  We stayed at a lovely hotel in the art center area.  It was beautiful, and we so wish we could have stayed an extra night.

I’m really annoyed by photo editing right now, so it’s messing up my writerly vibe as well.  But, oh well,  you see that plate full of green goo — OMG I crave that  now.  I’ve discovered hatch chiles and christmas sauce.  I may have to go back just to eat that meal again!

Colorado

It was so good to visit Kyle and Kendra in Castle Rock.  The only thing missing during our July 4 feast was these two.  Plus, you can’t go wrong visiting the big C during summer.  It’s always gorgeous there.

Kansas

From Colorado we headed to Indiana to visit Joe’s sister.  We spent a night in Kansas next to a truck stop.  Lol there’s really not much I can say about Kansas (although we didn’t explore much).  The highlight for me was taking a side trip to the Oz museum and Oz winery.  Those snazzy slippers that start this blog were bought there — love them!

Indiana

Before reaching Indiana we spent a night in Missouri near Columbia.  We regret not taking an extra day to explore the Ozarks (especially since we love the show set there), but perhaps another time.  Again we didn’t do much sight seeing, but we did spend a lot of time having fun with Joe’s sister, who lives in a Disneyesque town called Carmel.  LOL I swear they even pipe in the wildlife because while we were sitting at the fire pit we were entertained by racoons, foxes and a possum.  During the day blue jays and cardinals stopped by to peek at us peeking at them.  No need to do much exploring when it’s all right there.

I loved the artwork all over the town center, and a cool restaurant had my favorite bathroom ever. Who knew Indiana was so progressive?!

We spent a day sitting waterside sipping bevies, which was wonderful.  It made me miss living by a lake (but that was several lifetimes ago!).

And then our road trip was over.  We flew back to Phoenix for a few days, packed up and returned to Brussels.  Luckily we totally missed the heat wave.  I cannot imagine attempting sleep in my third-floor, non air-conditioned apartment in 106 degree temps.

I wish I would have taken the time to write the many reflections I’ve had during this trip, so that I could share the good ones with you, but I didn’t and now that I’m typing I can’t think of any of them.

I am torn between wanting to move back to the states to be closer to my kids (and their kids) and staying here where I’m in a bipolar relationship of peace and wonder and frustration and WTF (you never get used to eets a problame, which basically means “bitch you’re gonna wait another week, two, three or maybe four before this shit gets fixed”).

But, I do so love my home here and my job and the life, so it’ll be a while before I go back (unless my employer has other plans for me).

I am also heartbroken and enraged that a few days ago I messaged my children that I loved them and to please, please be safe and vigilant. All of the places where mass shootings take place could include any of us.  We love festivals, shopping, drinking and getting educated.  The story of the young mother dying in Walmart while shielding her infant crushed me.  The only saving grace is that wouldn’t be my daughter since she probably owns stock in Amazon by now, but why oh why are we so violent?  America I love you, and all my people there.  I truly believe there are more good of us than bad, so please, please, please let’s get our shit together and quit letting shit talkers stir it up (and noooo I’m not blaming politicians for the murders, but our leaders aren’t helping make change for the better, and we’re getting caught in the web with our own arguments and circular reasoning.  Bottom line: conservatives and liberals want the same for their children:  safety, growth, freedom and opportunities).  We know how to get along and play nice in the sandbox, so let’s get to it.  And, yes, that includes me.

Okay, this isn’t a blog about my country’s issues, so let me get back to the whole point of this post.  It was great to go home for a bit, and it’s just as great to come home!  I loved time with my people, but most of all my absolute favorite thing was rocking and singing my grandson to sleep.  OMG it is amazing how much a baby can fill your soul with love and hope. (um, maybe we need to all rock babies before problem solving?)

 

This is America

Time keeps rolling on by…

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As is typical I’ve been busy with guests, work and fun day trips.  In two weeks it’ll finally be School’s Out for Summer!  I’m so looking forward to that.  Our trip to China and Korea seems like forever ago, but it was just last month.

I promised a post on South Korea and Hong Kong, so here’s a quick snapshot of the fun we had.

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Seoul and Hong Kong were our favourite places.  In part because they’re just easier to navigate.  There’s no strict visa process or censorship, there’s more English spoken, and our credit cards easily worked.  Seoul was the friendliest, quirkiest city we visited.  You’d think taking a tour to DMZ would be a somber event, but once you get over the barbed wire alongside the road (to keep North Korean soldiers from swimming in for an attack — a plan gone wrong for those swimmers) your bus pulls into, I shit you not, an amusement park.  Our guide told us it was for the young children of families visiting the area to either mourn the loss of relatives or feel closer to loved ones still on the other side.

The tour we took included a stroll into an infiltration tunnel (you can’t take pics), which I was really excited about until a few minutes in I realised I was going to have to walk like a hunchback for too long a time.  Um, those tunnels were not made for the tall folk.  But, it’s all good because our exhausted selves got to be entertained by our singing tour guide.

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Yep, we dodged mines listening to “Gangham style” and “I did it my way!’   It was so odd to be in such a serious, tense place (there are rules to follow and soldiers to do their thing) surrounded by so much touristy/silly things, but I think that might sum up Korea — mix in the fun with the serious.

We also got to go to a Korean baseball game (way fun and so much energy) and a Korean barbeque (yum yum!).  And, yes, we got to use high tech toilets (the fan is oddly refreshing) and see K-pop fashion.

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Hong Kong was oh so cosmopolitan and gorgeous.  We had an amazing day touring their Big Buddha and surrounding areas.  It was just stunning.

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There’s so much more I could tell you, but I’m tired from a day at work, so the pics will  have to tell the tale.  We’re hoping to visit both Hong Kong and Seoul again and do more touring around.  This trip was just a quick taste of what it was like, plus a chance to whoop it up with Jordy & Wilber and my buds based near (a few hours away) Hong Kong.

Before I close out, though, I do have to share some of the bizarre signs we saw.  LOL definitely lost in translation (or not …)

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But my favourite all time pic is this one from our last night in Korea.

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What you don’t see is the metal pole with a latch on the top. This is on the 9th floor of our hotel near the elevator.  Basically, if there’s a fire you’re supposed to hook yourself up to that rope, trust the metal pole and repel to safety.  Um, I guess it’s first man first live; everyone else gets to jump.

Next up?  Bonnie and Michael visit, and then we’re off to our summer travels.  Oh and Dou Dou fest is also just around the corner — another week of mayhem and dragons.

Some shit you should know before going to China…

 

IMG_9168We’re back into our real world again readjusting to our Belgian rhythm, and when I have more time this weekend I will tell you more about our trip.  While stuck in the airport (no offence China, but we will do our best to avoid ever having to layover in Beijing again), I wrote up my list of things you should know before going to China.  I’m sharing these bits to spare you from embarrassing moments like the one I had on our very hot, noisy, long, stiff-seated flight to China on a Chinese airline.

A parched me was overjoyed to see the flight attendant strolling the aisle with a tray full of water cups.  “Yes please,” I croak, only to find out it was a steaming hot cup of water — no tea, no coffee, just scalding water.  My crabby self didn’t edit or think when a little too loudly I blurted out “Why in the fuck would I want hot water?”

Turns out hot water with a slice of lemon is as common as ice water is to we Westerners.   It’s what you’ll get at restaurants too (although Westerners should stick to bottled water because our bellies can’t handle what comes out of the tap).

Be careful of the ice too.  A refreshing gin and tonic at a cafe bar in Beijing will not make (the next day) for a comfortable hike on the Great Wall —- trust me on this one.

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Which didn’t stop me from posing — lol going by my hand placement I’m not entirely sure I’ve got it under control. LOL nor is Joe, but hey we’re smiling!

img_9702Spitting and sucking one’s teeth is common place; chewing gum is low class or something rude like that.  Sitting next to men swishing spit between their teeth (or hacking it out on the sidewalk) was gross to me , but I’m sure there’s shit I did that they considered gross as well (eating with forks perhaps?).  Culture is a finicky cat —- oh and it’s totally cool to wear a bubble backpack and shove your cat in it while you stroll the city.  Don’t have a cat?  Go to one of the many cat cafes (also popular in Seoul and Hong Kong).  Cats are cool here!

And so are you!  OMG if you’re tall, fat, light eyed, light haired or black you will be stared at.  If you’re more than one of these things you will get pointed at.  You will also have couples come up to you begging for a selfie.  Others will still snap your picture, thinking you’re too high up to notice the camera is pointed your way.  Joe and I are Chinese Social Media super stars.  I’m sure there’s captions like “Look!  You can put lipstick on a Godzilla,” or “Fee Fi Fo Fum he didn’t eat me.”

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LOL even fat Buddha and his minions get stared at by standing Buddha…

If you book a hotel because you’re wowed by its pool pictures, do know that you will be expected to wear bathing caps while in that pool.  If the pool man says, “you want new or borrowed?” go for new.  We thought he meant disposable caps, but what we got were two wet bathing caps.

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And yeah you look like this —- new wouldn’t have helped us on this one.  Joe might divorce me for posting this pic.

Ladies work out your thighs.  Squatty potties are real; toilet paper is not.

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And food is racist…

Last but not least:  Don’t be fooled by the adorable little old ladies hobbling near you. They will smack you on the bum or push you in the belly to get ahead.  Turns out there’s old lady karma too because I accidentally pawed one in the face when she was trying to whiz past me going up the stairs to the Grand Buddha.  I had no idea she was down there.  I felt bad then, but by the time we got to our layover in Beijing I was so disgusted by being pushed and prodded.  All I wanted to do was windmill my arms to take out as many as I could.

Crowds are everywhere … it can be pretty intense

I always do my best to respect another culture, and I get that my way of doing things is not THE way of doing things.  But, I do not get what we experienced at the mosh pit of hell trying to board our plane.  I also do not appreciate the dirty looks I got from some passengers on the crowded, loud plane —- especially considering that these same folk were half my size and took up twice as much space and would not stop moving and talking.  So, yeah, I guess I’m still a little bitter about getting pushed.

Things we knew but also should be stressed:  Google maps or translate will not work in China, nor will your social media.  I downloaded WeChat so that I could communicate with my friends there. The language barrier is also as vast as the Great Wall. Traveling in China is not easy if you don’t know Mandarin.

If you leave the touristy areas make sure you have lots of cash on you because no matter how good your travel credit or debit card is it will not work in much of China.  Luckily we had friends who picked up our tab more than once and booked all of our didi (their version of Uber) rides.  We did not pull out enough cash, so shame on us for that one.

For Americans, the visa process can be complicated, BUT if you stay in Beijing for less than 72 hours (maybe it’s higher than that) and leave for another country (say Korea) and then pop back into Shanghai for less than 144 hours you will not need a visa.  You can get a transfer visa at the airport, but don’t expect friendly agents (then again isn’t that common in most airports?).

But it is all worth it to see sights like this and experience a life different than ours.

We’re still glad we went, and so glad we caught up with friends.  Spending time with our peeps, hiking the Great Wall (even with an angry digestive track), sipping champagne at the Hyatt rooftop bar in Shanghai, walking through the shopping village in Wuxi and spending the day at a Buddha park were all worth the inconvenience of being aliens in a place far from our own.  And we also met  many friendly, helpful locals who made us feel welcome in their land.  So thank you China for sharing your corner of the planet with us for a few days.

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Up next: Korea, Hong Kong and some of the oddities we met along the way.

Cheers from China!

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Today is our last full day in Wuxi, China.  We’ve been having a fantastic time.  Last week we landed in Beijing and toured the Forbidden City and Great Wall and stayed at a wonderful hotel where we were spoiled.  The Great Wall was so worth the long flight to China.  It’s a must do if you can do it!  Then we took off to spend some time with Jordan and Wilber in S. Korea, then took off for Shanghai and Wuxi.  I don’t have much time to write because we’re off on another adventure in a few minutes.

Yesterday we went to a Buddha “amusement” park, The Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, which was such a nice surprise.  The Buddha in itself is worth the trip, but there are garden trails and pagodas and other goodies throughout the park.  And, of course, we’ve been feasting and sipping all sorts of goodies.

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Including bubbly at the top of the Hyatt in Shanghai!

Okay, I’m rushed, so here’s your photo blast of some of the cool stuff we’ve gotten to see.  I’ll write more and post later —- including a Seoul post.

Beijing shots ….

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More Beijing — lol can you find Joe in the crowd?  And loved the pool at our hotel.  Below are Shanghai and Wuxi pics — including riding the subway.  LOL the hanging handrails kept bopping us in the face.  We also got to ride a bullet train, so that was fun.  You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the madness of public transport when you can’t read, write or speak the language — or use google translate.

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Oh, how I wish I could tell you more, but my crew is ready to get out and about.  So, next time I pop in I’ll give you more story.

Bottoms up…

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Shame on me for not posting most of February and all of March.  Work and life have been busy (I know you’re tired of hearing that excuse, but it’s true).  We’ve whooped it up around Belgium and Paris with friends who were visiting, we’ve gone to a few wine tastings and lots of dinners and local outings.

Same old, same old … but never dull!  Even a trip to the flower market could turn into bubbly on the curb — especially when the sun is out!

The Grand Place is all decked out for Easter, including a big ferris wheel, which I’d like to post pics of, but I’m sure it’ll be down before I get to it.  We’re leaving on Saturday for our big trip to Asia.  I’m really excited about it.  We begin in Beijing where we’ll see the Great Wall and Forbidden City, then we’re off to South Korea where we’ll whoop it up with Jordan and Wilbur and watch a Korean baseball game, imbibe at a Korean BBQ, do a DMZ tour and check out Seoul, then it’s off to Shanghai and then Hong Kong.  Every stop except Beijing includes fun time with friends, some of whom I haven’t seen since moving away from the UAE.  So, a busy, good time will be had.

Another thing I’m excited about is it’s Spring!  Days are blessedly longer and work is winding down (I’m already planning away for next year).  When we return from Spring Break, we have Game of Thrones parties, more friends visiting, weekend trips, Dou Dou fest (before that the Beer Fest!), more dinners and plenty of Grand Place adventures to look forward to.  And then it’s time to fly back to the states for the summer where I’ll get to swim with the grand baby, my kids and friends.  Let the warm days of fun begin!

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And while I like this picture: Adieu to the long dark days of winter.  LOL Winter is NOT coming here  — until November.

What a difference a day makes

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A view from our lobby window.  I absolutely LOVE The Hague.  Next time Joe and I go, we’ll stay at the beach.

I had a meltdown yesterday outside a clinic during a snow/rain storm, which really wasn’t a smart idea — who cries in the freezing rain?!  This morning I woke to a sunny morning: walked the dog, then snuggled up with my favorite blankie and a cup of coffee on my favorite chair, and just inhaled the peace and quiet.  I am once again happy to be alive and where I am in the world, but yesterday morning not so much.

Last week was one wave after another of highs and lows.  Two teachers and I took 27 students to The Hague for its annual Model United Nations conference.  It is an amazing experience for students; a complete drain on their teachers (but worth it when you see how much good it has to give our young).  Basically each kid there has a role to play, and they do it for an entire week.  Most of our kids were mock UN delegates for Peru or Armenia, two of them were also ambassadors for each country.  We also had a chair and a press photographer. Our kids, who are already part of an international school setting (with primarily European and North American countries), got to work with kids from all over the globe including South Korea, Egypt, Oman, Zimbabwe, etc. etc.  One of our kids was ecstatic he got to co-write a resolution with a Netherlands princess, the future queen — how cool is that?  But, just as enlightening, was the ability to work with kids from countries where the threat of violence, starvation, humanity’s uglies are all too real (and in today’s uncertain times I guess that includes us all, but you know what I mean).

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Go babies go!  Ambassadors from the countries and organizations they represented during the week.

I cannot tell you how much it fed my soul to see teenagers on crowded trams and busses or at corner cafes lobbying/debating/co-writing resolutions with other teens, some of whom they just met that day.  Like in the real world, their jobs did not end at 5 p.m.  These kids were coming up with solutions to real-world issues — if only they could take the reigns away from some of their adult counterparts, we might not be in the sticky wickets we are in today (let me have my pollyanna moment).

During closing ceremony speeches one boy stated that he got to work with a young man from a rival country.  He pointed to his committee teammate and said, “if war breaks out, I will not fight my brother.”  Moments prior I saw the breaking news flash on my phone about nuclear treaty breaks.

How is it that I live in a world where teenagers are the more mature ones?  And, I know it’s easier for them because they’re not in control of the real world.  It is just words and practice, but why can our politicians/leaders/whatevers not see each other as brothers and sisters and find a better way to resolve conflict?  I get it; life beats us up with real-world crap, but come on folks we can do this better.  We can model what we preach to our kids.

So, why the waves you ask?  Well, they are human teenagers and with that comes their drama (okay so maybe not so much different than adults), so we had a few mini crises to facilitate — none of which included drugs, alcohol or sex (thank God!).   And, then sadly we had a big tragedy that affected us all.  There was a death back  ‘home.’  We teachers had to quickly become stand ins for their parents and grief counsellors until we could bring them home (all the while working with parents, counsellors and admins via technology).  Families were told it was okay to come get their kids, but our students decided to finish off the week, so we all powered through, but it wasn’t easy.   We also had two sick kids and one sick teacher (me).

My breakdown at the clinic happened because I just needed some antibiotics but because I never made the time to register at the health clinic on base they cannot help me until Monday when they can put me into the system.  It’s totally my fault for not going there sooner.  I’ve been here a year and a half — hello? bitch, get your affairs in order.  I also could have gone to a local clinic (and friends offered to drive me), but I was so beat and the roads were tricky that I just didn’t have it in me.  Caving in to my inner drama queen:  I’d rather cry and be miserable, which is okay because Nurse Badger is keeping an eye on me — and honestly my thing is such a minor problem.

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And, yes, my Christmas tree is still up.  I’ll finally take the time to put it all away next weekend.  

It’s all good, I’ll get it taken care of tomorrow.  I’m still a very lucky woman because I do not get ill often, and when I do it’s nothing major.  I also had two friends come over last night to enjoy Indian take out and much-needed talk and laughter.  Life is good, even when it has its bad moments.  And, Good God, our young will one day take over and hopefully put us on a better path.

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Tomorrow these will be their seats for reals!

Let there be snow!

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Guess who got her first snow day?  Whoop whoop!  Badger and I joined friends for breakfast, then we walked the park and had fun watching the kids pummel each other with snowballs, came home, cleaned, sipped tea with Chris, and totally just enjoyed being alive and home on a cold, wet winter day.

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It’s so beautiful, especially early morning.  Now, that the day is almost over it’s slush and dirt snow.

Lol, that said, the dog isn’t a fan of the cold.  To get his perspective click on his pic below. img_7746.jpg

As usual, I’ve been busy with work and fun.  Before Kyle and Kendra flew back to Arizona we got to see the Niki de Saint Phalle exhibit at the museum across the street from me and the weirdest performance (think fantasy characters on acid) at the Collegial.  Both were a lovely way to end our time together, and I was melancholic when they left.  I so miss spending regular time with my babies.  I love this life of mine, but, well, you know, I want both worlds together.

Last weekend I spent in Amsterdam playing with friends.  I finally got to visit the Moco museum, which I’ve been wanting to tour forever.  I highly recommend.

Sorry, turns out I didn’t snap too many pics, but here are few Amstie goodies for you. Never a dull time there!

We also had our own Yellow Jacket protest here in Mons.  Laura and I were walking Cupcake and Badger and ran right into their parade.  We brought our dogs home to avoid the noise, and the protesters ended up walking right under my window.  No violence, just noise.

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It’s an interesting time to be aging.  So much anger and disappointment among many.  There’s a lot to be angry about.  I hope/pray/dance/beg/whatever it takes for my species to figure its shit out.  We have oh so much to be thankful for and in love with; may we remember that before we destroy it all.  {this is what happens when I have a day off to also sip tea and reflect]

My man is in the states, returning here March 1.  I’m not going to lie:  I LOVE having time alone (don’t worry I also miss him and love our time together too).  He’s catching up with friends and family while getting some of his stuff taken care of.  He finally got to meet Kaylene’s baby, and never has he looked sexier to me than in this pic right here…

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Torin says, “Badger you’ve got competition.  I’ve got him wrapped too!”

Next week I’ll be at The Hague all week watching some of our students play out their roles in Model United Nations.  It ought to be a great thing to witness — if teenagers only knew how much hope they feed me.  Keep it up, kids.

Well, it’s getting dark and drafty in my apartment.  Time to up the heat, light the candles, pour a hot bath and settle back into work-night mode.  Before I know it, it’ll be time for summer vacation again, and I’ll be back to cackling with my kids and friends.

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Here’s to our crazy pool time together, which will be here in a few blinks!

um, p.s., Snow Gods:  I’m totally good if you want to give us another Snow Day.  The pool can wait for that.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve bubbly on Brussel’s Grand Place

This time next week Kyle and Kendra will be back in Arizona, Joe will be on a plane headed to Arizona (for a two month visit), and I will be busy at work.  BUT, that’s next week.  This week I’m still on holiday getting all snuggly with part of my family.

We’ve been busy living it up.  We’ve done weekends in Amsterdam, Paris, Cologne and Brussels, along with showing off Mons and Brugge — including lots of good cheer with friends.

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We’ve imbibed in a lot of goodness!  And, the obligatory tourist shots!

We also got to witness a little bit of the Yellow Jacket ruckus in Paris.  Our tour guide was more a fan of the protests than telling us interesting bits about the city, but it’s all good since it’s now part of our story.

The city was way less crowded than normal, and we saw the remnants of the violence that erupted prior to our visit, but we were lucky that no projectiles or fires took off where we were — just people chanting and parading for their something better.

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We also got to celebrate Lorayne’s birthday sipping champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower, so our story is always more full of happiness than its antonym.

On New Year’s Eve we joined the party at the Atomium, which was fun until, well, it wasn’t, but that too turned out okay.

The aerial dancers, music and fireworks show was amazing — and free to enter!  But, the trip home was insane.  I love Belgium, and I get it has its kinks, but promising free public transportation after midnight (in Brussels) and then not planning on crowd control eeze a problame!  

We got to the Tram station only to find a swarm of people like us trying to figure out where the damn line to get into the station was — instead it was just a mosh pit of hats and scarves pushing our way forward only to learn that the corner of the crowd we were in was ‘closed.’  Wtf did that even mean?  Long story short we have no idea what was going on inside the tram station, only that our asses weren’t getting in.  So, Kyle took over  the GPS and we began the alleged 1.5 hour walk to our hotel.  The goal was to hail a cab or jump on a bus or try out another metro station along the way.  LOL, but every bus that passed us was so packed with people their faces were literally squished against the windows.  They would have flipped us the bird — since we laughed at the insanity of it — but they were too packed in to be able to lift their hands.  I wasn’t handling the whole thing very well and was really pissed, but then it started raining, and I just gave in to it because what can you do?  Walk in, hopefully, the right direction, while packed taxis and busses pass you by — until Kyle managed to hail us our miracle cab.  

So, we brought in 2019 with amazing fireworks, a bit of a “wtf do we do now” panic, then relief thanks to a stranger, and then, finally, oh thank God we’re home.  That pretty much sums up our years, doesn’t it?

It’s all good because our story will always move forward, and that’s a great thing.  Cheers to all of you and all that the new year will bring us!

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And Auf Wiedersehen to the holiday season — we’ll catch you again in 11 months!

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