Category Archives: Belgium Year Two

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!
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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!

Mons living…

Me right now dancing around the airport because I’m finally en route to meet my grandson Torin the Terrible!  Cannot flipping wait.

Work has been busy, busy, busy, but now I have my week off, all is well.  I survived Homecoming week.

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I’m the accidental junior sponsor this year, which meant overseeing a lunch, Homecoming nominations, the votes, and the big dance.  It was a lot of work, but thanks to some awesome parents and kids it all went off without a hitch.

Things have been busy in Mons as well.  The leaves are turning and the temps are finally cooling down.  Just last week we were still in the 70s.  Our backyard is all confused.  The rose bush is still budding while the tree and ivy are turning color.

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Pic not of my backyard, but of the ivy in a nearby park.

Mons is also gearing up for its 100th anniversary of the WW1 armistice.  This poor city got hit hard during both world wars, and they take the ending of both wars seriously.  The Grand Place has been rehearsing bits and pieces of its amazing light show that premiered last night.  It’s the story of a young soldier and how the war affected Mons.  It will air twice a night through Nov 11, and it’s quite moving.  I’ll try to do a better job of portraying it again.  For now here’s a few shots

 

The spot lights from our park and apartment are also pretty cool.  Looks like we’re being invaded by aliens.

There’s plenty more I can share, but I’ve got to head on over to my gate and wait to board plane one of Oma’s wild ride to Torin.  Next up?  Baby pics!

It’s been a minute…

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We haven’t fallen into an abyss; we’ve just been busy, busy, busy.  Before I fill you in on what we’ve been up to, let me photo blast you the latest addition to my family who is born on 8/18/18.  He’s been raising hell and breaking hearts since the minute he became my daughter’s son.  I get to hold the little cutie on October 27th.  I cannot wait!

 

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This child has no idea how much we’re all going to spoil him.  Oh I soooo hope he and his parents can come visit this summer — oh and when he’s a little older, Christmas!  Europe is so magical around Christmas time.  Okay, it’s always magical, but uber lit in December.

Tickets are booked for Kyle and his girlfriend to visit during Christmas, so I’m also excited about that.

We’ve been busy with visitors actually.  In August we had too much fun with Jordan, in September Joe’s friend Brian came for a week and those two had a great time touring Normandy, and then last week my friend Marna popped in for a few days.

 

Showing off Belgium to visiting friends:  beer, waffles, Brugge, outdoor markets, Mons Tanks in Town and the Belfry.

We’ve also been whooping it up with our friends in Belgium as well.  There’s just so much going on this time of year.  We checked out the flower carpet in Brussels, had too many laughs doing a pub crawl in Brussels, had quite a few Grand Place days, and were mesmerised at the Fire Symphonie in Viller’s Abbaye.  Baroque music and acts in the abby ruins, lit up only by candles and fire.  It was truly amazing.  I hope they do it again next year.

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LOL my crazy peeps tailgating before the big event.  My pictures don’t do the symphony justice.  The musicians, the dancers, the fire acrobatics, lol and the horse act all on a brisk night amidst the ruins of our past.  Villers Abbey is one of my favorite places to go near Brussels.  We’re signing up for more of their experiences!

 

A bizarre in Germany, the shopping street in Mons and the flower carpet in Brussels.

There’s so much more to share, but I can’t think of it all.  Living in Belgium is such a treat for us.  I know there will come a day when we have to leave here, but for now we’re inhaling it all as much as we can.  There’s pretty much a festival or some sort of fun event going on every weekend until after Christmas.  Then we’ll have the dark, cold days of January and February to snuggle up at home, and then before you know it Spring kicks in, and we’re back outdoors whooping it up.

Work has been super busy, so this weekend we decided to just chill in Mons, and lo and behold there was a pumpkin festival…

 

Camembert with pumpkin and flowers, and those birds and flowers are carved squash and pumpkins!  Yum yum.

 

While sitting at our favourite cafe pub Excelsior, this happened! I wish I could tell you who the fur men shaking bells were, but all I know is when they finished performing the masks came off, fur stayed on, and they found their spot in the Grand Place and drank beer with the rest of us.  This is Mons:  Past and Present; Paganism and Christianity all meld together and enjoy a good beer when the sun is out (which has been quite a lot actually)!

I’m slammed at work the next few weeks, and then I’m off to visit the grand baby, but I’ll try to post more frequently again.  And, Badger is ticked at me for not putting the woof in his blog, so I’ll work on that soon as well.  Until then Happy Autumn!

Last Days of Summer…

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Tomorrow I go back to work officially.  Days of staying up late and lounging on the balcony, on the Grand Place, on the couch, on the wherever/whenever I want are over (well, except for weekends!).

I’m glad we returned to Belgium two weeks before going back to work because we’ve had a lot of fun touring here — despite the heatwave — and showing off our hood to new friends (and old).

Bought chocolate in Brugge, beer at Orval Abbey, beer at Villers Abbey, sipped wine at The Abbey where friends live, and ate food all over the place.  It’s been good.

Some Orval shots for you…

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FYI Dog lovers: dogs cannot enter this abby, but they can hang with you in the nearby restaurant.

My favorite Orval pic:  Lord knows I’m going to need someone to hold me up the next few weeks!

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I really enjoyed Viller’s Abbey, which is less than an hour’s drive from Mons (less than that from Brussels).  Josh and Roger, friends of ours, suggested it since we could bring Badger on the grounds, and we’re so glad they did.

The whole area is worth it.  Tourists reading this, I highly recommend you give it a whirl.  It’s a maze of ruins and gardens, which you can get at just about all of the Abbys, but it’s a short drive and not as well known, so way less people.  It also has stage set ups and events planned throughout the year.  Mid-September there will be some sort of ghost walk and the end of September includes a fire symphony, which we’re totally going to.

Outside the Abby grounds are more walking trails, cafes and goodies to explore — including a “Dog Bar” for Badger.

Some Villers Abby shots for you.  LOL, yes there’s a disco ball in them ruins.

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Click here for Badger’s “Shits & Barkles” take on the day.

We also enjoyed cooking out where Mini and Leah, more friends, live. Their apartments are on old abby grounds.  I’ve been there quite a few times, and this is the first time I walked the grounds.  It’s beautiful, and Lo and behold we discovered there’s actually a No Frog zone.

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Frogs say pooh on that because we saw all kinds of baby ones hopping about.

Life never gets boring here, which is a good thing because my next vacation isn’t until November when I’ll finally get to meet my first grandchild (he or she is due August 28, come on lil one!  The world awaits your chaos).

And, I haven’t totally let go of Brazil yet.  LOL a piece of it is on my dining room table.

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Beach wraps make great table cloths!

Well, it’s noon and I’m starving, so time to get out on the Grand Place and nibble on something like this…

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I’m never getting thin again…

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