Friday, 31 July 2009

What to do? Go on holiday or decorate?

We're back in Belgium. Babes is actually on holiday for another couple of weeks.
(I hope this doesn't make too many Americans weep with envy. I once looked into getting a job with Google in Silicon Valley and decided not to even apply when I saw the ridiculously meager American holiday allowance. As a European, it's hard to understand that whole mindset.)

Now we're not sure what to do next. The options on the table are
  1. trying to find a cheap last-minute holiday
  2. tidying and decorating the house.
We are probably going to go for the second option. Sigh.

We've lived in this house for four years now, and we've still only got one coat of paint on the kitchen, and on the rear window in the living room we managed to get one curtain up, and the other still needs to be made. It's been like that for three years. It's now got to the point where we both want to do something about this. We could probably also put up a picture or two.

The problem was we got the house to the stage where it looks cozy and lived in, and a good place to live, really, just not entirely finished. Who goes around counting the curtains in a house anyway?

It would just be so dull, and take so much energy. (Did you hear me whine there?) And going on holiday would be a lot more fun. But we have just been away for a week.

What do you think, internet? What would you do?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

All whored out and all bricked up (still in England)

So I'm thinking next year I really need to go to BlogHer. Because I'm a glutton for punishment and because I was always the kid that fit in right away. HAHAHA. No, really.

In a previous life I was doing a PhD at university (never finished) and I travelled to conferences a lot and I always loved them. You get to stay in a nice hotel, learn a lot about your favourite subjects (they should have been in any case, and with blogging that would actually be the truth), you get to see a bit of the world AND meet some lovely people. Win-win-win-win, right?

There are a few problems I foresee. For a start, it would be very expensive. So I would probably have to whore myself out. I could perhaps start trawling the Belgian airports and see if I could bed an international airline executive. Which would obviously get me a plane ticket. Actually, I should probably find out where it is first. If it's in Hawaii, great. Not sure I would want to go to ... just thinking which state I want to really alienate here.

Also - I would need to get to know more people, because I'm not doing a reenactment of the first day at school for all the blogging community to see. (Standing in a corner not knowing anyone.) So I'm thinking I might write some good code to trawl all you lovely people's blog rolls and automatically leave the following message on all most recent posts:
"Lovely post! I had one on just the same topic lately."
And then all I have to hope is that there aren't too many posts on circumcision (we don't do that, we're European) or cookie making (we don't do that, we're lazy) or crocheting (we don't do that, we have my sister for that).

Then of course I need to be nominated at least for an award (winning might be over the top and lose me more friends than it would get me). Is there some kind of BlogHer Newcomer of the year? Maybe Foreign Newcomer of the year. I have no idea. Are there even awards at BlogHer? These things everyone has been canvassing for are surely BlogHer related. I should probably do some research as well.

I think I'll start with the whoring.


So do you know that situation where you're on a diet and you're doing really well, and you lost five pounds, and then you think you can probably loosen up a bit and next thing you know you're seven pounds heavier than your starting weight? That's me with the whole holiday constipation thing.

In Switzerland, I was good as gold, drinking liters of water and having tons of brown bread, with the special seeds on top and I was fine(-ish). Now I've gone to the UK, and I'm on my usual British diet of white toast with baked potatoes and a side of chips. Bummer.

It doesn't help that Marie insists on providing me with an audience in the bathroom these days. She insists on coming along and watching me perform. I'm telling you. The one thing that does not make a shy piece of excrement come out any faster is a toddler giving a running commentary on your every move and tinkle.

(I thought I would write about my poop YET AGAIN as lots of bloggers have been stopping by and leaving comments, and I'm all about the masochism and the scaring people off and that.)


Actually, not sure what's more inappropriate: writing about BlogHer if you haven't even been or writing about your own poop yet again.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I really don't need an iPhone

Reasons not to get an iPhone:
  • I'd probably get cancer of the finger. And the hand. And the side (where it would hang when in my handbag.)
  • The price of the phone.
  • The phone bill.
  • I'd forget to look at the kids and they would fall into a pit.
  • The end of my social life, as surely no one could be as entertaining.
  • The end of my marriage, because I would take the Interweb to bed with me.
  • I would go application-mad, like I did with Firefox for a while.
On the plus side:
  • I would go more places, not being so fused to my computer.
  • It would be too much fun.
  • I could pick up gay men in my vicinity.
  • I would be cool and hip.
  • I could write posts immediately when I think about them, instead of composing brilliant ones in my head and forgetting all the cute turns of phrase by the time I get home.
  • I would go application-mad, like I did with Firefox for a while.
  • I would never be bored again. Just flipping it from horizontal to vertical over and over again would keep me enthralled for at least half an hour a day.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Naturism (in England)

I'm at the in-laws at the moment. This is going to be a short visit, and is therefore filled mainly with family visits and shopping (for things we can't get in Belgium unless we pay ridiculous prices at the American shop in Brussels), so not much to report there.

One thing about this house - I love having showers here. The cubicle and showerhead are unremarkable, rather British (think insufficient power and beige tiles). What thrills me, though, is the window to the garden. Somehow my shower gets a thousand times better when I'm bathed in natural English country light.

Now before you think I'm some kind of pervert (I may be, but not in this sense), I assure you that this is all about getting back to nature and nothing to do with being an exhibitionist. The glass is frosted, and I am happy to report that my enjoyment gets lessened rather than increased when there is a possibility that my father-in-law is lurking in the garden. Just so you know.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Read earlier in The Sunday Times Style Magazine:
"We're thinking: knees - the new shoulders?"
I laughed so hard I cried.

Feeling sorry for myself (in England)

May is leaving in the morning to go to back to the States. I waited for years and years to finally have a best friend again, the way I did at school and at university. Then I finally get one and after a year she leaves. Life sucks that way sometimes.

We were going to go away together for three days from tomorrow, but through circumstances that is not happening. I'm quite sad about that, because now I don't feel I've said goodbye to her properly. All I did was tell her to take all the Diet Coke from my fridge and then I blubbered into her hair. Classy.

Now I'm in England with the kids and babes, so I'm not even taking her to the airport. I just couldn't stay in Belgium on my own when she was leaving.

One final message to May (who reads this blog): "Fuck you, bitch" for leaving me and see you very very soon.

Friday, 24 July 2009

All out of words (in Switzerland)

Basel Zoo:

You can't see me, I'm hiding.

- Mama, that kangaroo has a big baby sticking out of its pouch.
- That's not its baby, dear.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Urghl (in Switzerland)

I'm narky today.

I've mentioned I don't deal well with not having a plan. Today was one of those days where we were going to "just relax" and "not do anything special". Vomit. I don't deal well with those. I get kind of annoying. I won't inflict that on you.

Tomorrow we have a plan.


Just, exactly, precisely, at the moment I wrote the above, nature goes and does this outside the window:

Nature is a practical joker. Nature is making fun of me.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Poop & rain in the plain (in Switzerland)

When I go on holiday, I always have this annoying problem. You might think it's embarrassing, but it's not because Dr. Oz and Oprah have discussed it, so it's ok. I'm always terribly constipated. The last time I went to Germany for a week, I only pooped once, on the very last day, and it was a pain.

Now I thought this was odd, but hey shit happens (or doesn't, as the case may be) and you live with it. Then one day I was watching Oprah, and on comes this person who has exactly the same problem. I learned, from the delightful Dr. Oz, that this is called "safe toilet syndrome". I'm sure some academic got a full four-year grant and extra research money to think that one up.

Delightfully, he also had tips on what to do to remedy the problem. I've been having liters of water and lots of fiber (brown bread, peaches). I think it also helps that I've been in this house twice before, so the toilet is marginally "safer". The result? Two number twos in five days! I'm ecstatic.

I bet when you got up this morning you were wondering if I'd pooped yet.


As for other holiday news, we had a mostly rainy, partly sunny day and spent it first in a park near Basel and then in Zürich. No commiserations necessary - we are part Scottish and like the rain. We live by Billy Connolly's saying "There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes." We all travel with raincoats. (Mine is white, like Paris Hilton's.)

The park was very very flat and therefore much more suitable than yesterday's mountain for Marie.

It had a playground, a fountain, lots of ducks and herons, and a dinosaur.

We only went to Zürich for a couple of hours, but I liked it enormously. You know the feeling you sometimes get in a new city - the feeling of "I could live here"? That's the feeling I got. This feeling does not photograph well. All the photos came out looking like a nice town on the water (it's on a river and a lake). It just feels right. It's very lively, with cafes in the squares, and lots of great shopping streets. There is a beautiful little park on the side of the lake where people swim and sunbathe. I suppose it doesn't blog all that well either. Just take it from me. Good city.

Random extra:
I don't know what's going on here. I think the naked guy is asking the bird to dance. Within view of this statue were another one of a naked guy wrestling with a bull and one of a naked woman sitting on a horse. They seem to like their naked people with a side of animal in Zürich.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bloody hell where did my baby go (in Germany) - I'm still shaking

This morning, we headed to the Black Forest in Germany. We went to a place called Belching mountain.

We went up the mountain in the Belching cable car

and had our lunch in the Belching Restaurant.

Okay, I'm done with that now.

After lunch, we went for a walk around the summit, following the Belching Trail (last one, I promise).

Marie was happily walking in front of me.

I turned around to say something to Babes and I heard this small "whoosh" sound. When I turned back, Marie had gone. I ran to see if she'd gone further up the path, but she wasn't there. Then I saw her red T-shirt.

She'd fallen and slidden down underneath the fence next to the path, on the downhill side. She'd already gone down about four meters. Luckily she's a clever one, so when I told her to lie still she did. I rather screamed for Babes, who went straight over the fence and picked her up.

I'm still shaking as I write this. That moment was such a huge parenting fail.
  • The flimsy wire at the side of the path made me feel she'd be alright walking on her own.
  • I didn't keep my eyes on her the whole time.
  • The most embarrassing part? I'd been taking pictures, and as soon as Babes grabbed her, all I wanted to do was to take a picture of them, still on their slanted meadow. (He didn't let me.)
(How anal do you have to be to bullet-point a list of your own parental failings?)

From then on, she was obviously held by the hand or carried the rest of the walk. In a way, it was lucky this fall happened early on in the walk, because just a few metres further, the drop was far steeper and deeper. I'm hoping I wouldn't have let her walk on her own there, but I'll never know. I have learned that hills are bloody dangerous for kids, though. (Stating the glaringly obvious here, but I was raised in a very very very flat country.)

I'll now add a couple of views from the rest of the walk, after which I'm sitting down with a glass of wine to steady my nerves.

Cows in this part of the world actually wear cow bells. They're not just for tourist shops.

Monday, 20 July 2009

All dressed up and ready to go (to France)

I thought I would give you a peak into my travel wardrobe. Today, I thought I was being particularly clever, with a very modular all-weather, multi-purpose, yet stylish, number.

In case of extreme hot weather, there was the (very lovely) dress with the flip-flops. If there was a hint of cold, I could add the leggings. In case of rain or downright chilliness, I had a cardigan and my lovely old socks and boots combo, also handy in uneven walking conditions.

I'm actually a bit worried my bum and thighs look big in the above picture of my leggings. You have to remember they're not full length ones.

Of course I never took the trousers off because I have issues with my knees, and I slipped quite a few times on our woodland walks because I would not wear the boots. I've been working on some nice criss-cross tanning patterns on my feet.

(Yes, being me is sometimes quite tiring, why do you ask?)


Oh, you want to know what we actually did? What's that? More interesting than what I was wearing? Luckily I know you're kidding.

Well, I love me some old tumble-down castles and some forests, and so do the rest of the family, so we found us some in France (only half an hour away from Basel).

We saw Hohlandsbourg Castle

It had some amazing views over the hills and plains of Alsace, all the way to the Alps.

There were some demonstrations of medieval fighting and crafts and the like, which was very entertaining for the kids. I just liked taking pictures of the horse behind the people. It was getting ready to pee. I missed the peeing itself because the camera was switched off, but it still gives me quite a bit of pleasure to publish pictures of a horse "in full swing", with some medieval pillocks in front.

On the way to the castle, we noticed this sign pointing into the woods

so after castle number one, we drove back and went through a forest to see this fallen down castle

after which we went through another forest to see another fallen down castle. (Alsace has fallen down castles around every single corner and treestump.)

It was great! Fun was had by all. We saw lizards and butterflies and picked up sticks and rocks. Who needs more than that?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

How not to decorate for children (in Switzerland)

We're in Basel, Switzerland for a week's holiday. So far, we have been lazing about, catching up on some sleep, going for a leisurely lunch.

The only thing I can report so far is that the appartment is driving me crazy. (I'm being quite ungrateful. Gift-horse blablabla.) It is the ultimate bachelor pad, and we have a one-year-old and a five-year-old who seem to determined to smother it in chocolate.

I present to you the linen:

And these are the carpets and tables:

Indeed, all white linens, white carpets, glass tables, wooden floors. The table corners attract children's skulls, the carpets and linens are a magnet for dirty paws, and the whole place has this amazing echo when you talk/walk/sing/play. I know - keep breathing, relax.

Oh, and we had lovely crepes in a square which looks like this:

and we had a nap after lunch. I never said it was all bad.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Soft porn and burgers

I am sitting with my sister An in a portal of hell which can be recognised by its golden arches. We go there on occasion because once in a while we all need some crap, only we do it very badly. An and I drink only water there. The children don't like fries, burgers or chicken nuggets (and I can't blame them for that) so they only eat their baby carrots and large piece of pineapple. The real reason we go there, is that the children love the play area, and we get some (semi-)quiet time to ourselves.

So we get onto the topic of which diseases and growths we each have at the moment. Hypochondria is a way of life not to be sneezed at.

I have this lump, in the middle of my chest, just below my bra. I first found it while I was in labour with Jack, and after a mild panic by the junior doctor attending me, this older nurse comes in, and very gravely tells him "that, my boy, is the sternum". Panic over.

This year, I've been sure the lump has been growing. It hasn't. I've been losing weight. However, I will still lie in bed and touch it until it hurts (sternums are not made to be palpitated too frequently), and secretly wonder if I should go back to the doctor with it. Because I like being laughed out of the door. And I also like losing all credibility with my doctor so that when something is really wrong with me, I will remain undiagnosed until two days before my death.

So most times, I wake up Babes and demand to palpitate his sternum, and of course he has no lump where I do, and he's skinnier than me. OMG this is the end.

So - yesterday - back to the franchise of Satan. I'm sitting there with An and I'm wondering, maybe only girls have lumps there, and boys don't. So I'm feeling to see if she has a protruding sternum, and then she is feeling it, and then she's checking my bump to know what she's looking for, and then we both feel hers again. She doesn't seem to have a bumpy sternum. I'm pretty sure. She's much skinnier than I am.

Finally we're done touching each other's general chest area, and I notice this guy has been staring at us the entire time. I imagine I saw a vague sense of satisfaction there. I hope it added to his life. He had a whole Southern American thing going on. Maybe Brazilian. Mmm.

Seriously - anyone who has a bumpy sternum, tell me!

It's probably anthrax of the breastbone.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Things I desperately crave and need

  • An iPhone. To be closer to the Interweb.
  • Cookie cutter as seen on Belgian Waffle.
    Can be used to make obscene biscuits. I'm just saying. How can I have people over for dinner without obscene biscuits?
  • Red, high-heeled shoes.
    Have been looking for a few years. Actually bought a pair. Had to return them because of chemical smell.
  • A pair of extremely comfortable yet beautiful, long black boots. With heels.
  • Some beer in the fridge. (We are all out.)
  • Staff.
    Maid, cook, gardener. No nanny, I like looking after the kids if there's nothing else I have to do.
  • Really, just an iPhone will do.
What is it you are craving today?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I just trimmed my bush because it was starting to get to the neighbours.

So she can clean after all

First of all, I must say if you liked Borat, go see Brüno. I thought it was sometimes a bit slow, but then later I realised that - no, it was Sacha Baron Cohen's sheer genius realising that a break would make the next bit even funnier.

I laughed so much my face hurt by the end of it, and for some bits I could literally not sit up any more. At one point, the people in front of me turned to look at me instead of the movie.

(Disclaimer: Please note this movie is not for the fainthearted/easily shocked. I don't want to get any hate mail from some Christian fundamentalist complaining that I ruined their previously pure soul.)


When I got up this morning, I was finally at that stage where I was fed up with the state of the house. I started a spring clean. (I'm not late, I'm early.) Maybe it was the effect of Brüno.

I'm appalled by the bucketfuls of sand I have found, in the toys, between the dirty clothes, on the carpet. I need to start remembering to tip out the children's shoes after going to the park.

Playpen before:

Playpen after:

Well, obviously that's not the final "after". It's just to demonstrate the ridiculous quantity of sand. Jeez, I'm going to vacuum that and change the sheet in a minute.

All this tidying inspired me to be all housewifely in other areas, too. For lunch, there was a stack of pancakes

and the washing is being processed

with thanks to Brits in Bosnia for alerting me to the extreme suitability of the weather for hanging washing.

When I went to hang up the washing, I discovered that the whole garden had been taken over by spiders.

So now I don't only need to dust the house, I even need to dust the garden. This has taken me by surprise.

Now I'm bored.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Planning, and looking forward

Today is one of these holiday days that just don't seem to finish. I am not writing about that. We all have enough of that.

What I am writing about: I'm planning our holidays! Too exciting. So far, I have a week in Basel, Switzerland. We can stay there for free, so we just need to drive there. We also have internet, so lucky you! I will be able to blog about it! (Say yay!)

Then the week after that, we have a bit of a box of delights with something for everybody. Babes and Jack are going to the UK to renew a passport, but while they're there, they are celebrating a birthday, seeing the grandparents and cousin, the aunts. Well, it will be lovely for them both.

Marie is staying with me for a bit, and also going to stay with her grandmother here in Belgium for two nights. She is going to be spoilt rotten and have a great time.

Me? I'm going off to be with May for three days before she returns to the US. I'm sad just thinking about it. I'm sure we will have a lovely time. We are going to Hasselt, a Belgian town I've never been to. Our country is about as big as a postage stamp, yet I've probably seen more French towns than Belgian ones.

Apparently, though, this is the friendliest and cosiest town you could go to. There are a million shops, which will happen to have their FINAL SALE DAYS just then. Yes, you read that right. I think we may well spend most of our time sitting around, sipping a drink and laughing. Professing our undying love for each other. Better not cry too much.

Then our holiday is actually not finished yet, would you believe it. We are considering going camping for a bit. We've never camped with kids, especially not with a twenty month old, so any helpful hints would be gratefully received. (Including NO DON'T!)

We are considering a kiddie theme park. (Jack's special request.) There also needs to be a lot of cycling. We have been invited to a wedding and a big birthday do. We have plenty of options in any case.


Oh, and tonight I'm off with May to see the new Brüno movie. I hope it's as hilarious as I expect.

Monday, 13 July 2009

At least I can still see my toes

This morning at the gym, I felt like I'd gone back to square one, do not pass go you will not receive 200 dollars. Normally, I start my workout with 40 minutes on the bike and 15 kilometers. I stop after 40 minutes but only if I've done my 15 km. I never have to do more than 40 minutes.

Today, it took me 47 minutes. Ridiculous. I know why, of course. The weekend. I PIGGED OUT. Not in a nice way.

On Saturday night, we had May's official birthday party.

Happy birthday, May!

And there, right in that picture, you see two parts of the problem I had at the gym this morning. I probably shouldn't have had a gin and tonic, a cheese croquette, a prawn croquette, a lemonade, a steak, bearnaise sauce, fries, and then, to top it all off, and because I am a moron, two (2!) pancakes with two (2!) scoops of ice cream and chocolate sauce.

I knew it wasn't a good idea at the time. And yet I didn't need that much persuading to have the pancakes. I really don't know why I do that every time. Afterwards, I woke up in the middle of the night and actually vomited into my mouth a little. Which was completely unnecessary.

Then yesterday, I was behaving really rather well all day, until I had both this:

and this:

while watching TV at night.

I'm really beating myself up about this. The self-loathing is having a good day.

I should try to focus on the positives here. I could have had beer as well last night, and I didn't. I stopped after half a bag of crisps. (The other half is shouting at me from the kitchen to come and eat it.) And I worked out for more than an hour and a half.

Still, it's just not a very nice thing to do to my own body. I shall cook something nice and healthy tonight perhaps. If I can be bothered. What tastes nice after a starter of crisps and beer?

Friday, 10 July 2009

One day at a time

I think I have this holiday thing sussed.

I've trained the kids to sleep until ten in the morning. This seems to calm them down during the day. I suppose it's nicer to live at your own pace. It does make me wonder at the wisdom of always waking kids up to go to school.

Marie naps two till four (instead of one thirty to three, when I have to wake her to go and get Jack from school during the year). She sometimes sleeps for three hours. I didn't even know she was capable of that.

That horrible time around five o'clock? I just make sure I'm out of the house, doing the shopping or something.

Mondays and Fridays I'm keeping as Marie's creche days. Jack goes with me to the gym for a couple of hours. They have a great kids' room, with a TV, computer games, a box of toys, and he gets to take his dad's Nintendo DS. He wants me to work out longer when I go to get him after two hours, so that's fine.

Can you hear the holiday demon laughing in the background? He's saying "Mwoohaha, I have you fooled. This is a temporary lull, making my next punch hit even harder."

It's strange that I'm finally making progress in the gym. I'm building up the intensity and the weights. That after making no progress for months. I suppose I'm underestimating the workout you get from a full day's sale and shoe shopping with two small children in tow. It's a shame my weight is not playing along. I've actually gained two pounds. WTF?

Also - I don't know what the weather is doing. Last week, it was about thirty degrees. Today: fifteen. Last week, I couldn't shed enough clothes. Today, we're back to jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts. At least I now get to wear my fabulous fuck me boots.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Now I show my true colours

So I have this thing with vouchers and sales. I get such a kick out of a good bargain.

In Belgium, we only have sales twice a year. There are actual laws against having sales any other time. So, obviously, for a sales junky, these are the good kind of headrush days. Now, I've been looking for a raincoat for ever. Or at least a couple of years. Today, I got this one:

I know - white. What do I think I am? Paris Hilton? Trust me - it looked better than the dark blue one.

I thought I got a nice bargain, getting it for 15 euros, down from 40.

However, this was from Zara, which is not known for its 40 euro coats, so I thought I would peel the label back, and look what I found:

Did you see that? 99 euros? That's an 85 percent reduction! I am not joking if I say that gave me such an adrenaline kick, I've been high all night. Which was useful, because I was kind of tired and then it was date night, so I ended up delightful company in spite of spending all day shopping. No, really.

I'm giving you another example. I'm thinking by now anyone who was going to run for the hills because of this post is long gone. Yesterday, I had seven vouchers for the supermarket, and I managed to completely bamboozle the checkout girl. I have a picture:

("Bon" means "voucher".) So you see that 4 euros off and the 400 loyalty points? Both on one pack of dishwasher tablets. Both vouchers totally told me they were not to be used with anything else, but I went for it anyway and the girl never saw it. The best part? It was a large pack of dishwasher tablets, which said 30% extra free, so I got 117 tablets for the price of 3.85 euros. And! The voucher gave 7 (SEVEN) extra packs of Pixar cards for my son. Yeah, I know!

(Sad aside: I'm feeling kinda guilty for robbing the supermarket. Catholic guilt kicking in, I suppose. Not all that guilty, though.

Second sad aside: vouchers on dishwasher tablets are my downfall. Babes calculated it last night, and we now have enough dishwasher tablets to last us six years.)

You know, I may say I'm all about the bargain, but really it's because I'm ever so slightly an anal person. Case in point: last night, May was over to make invitations for her birthday party, and I spent about half an hour of that time filing my son's Pixar cards in numerical order, and (and!) making labels, with my label maker (I kid you not), to organize his Pixar card holding folder. This kind of thing totally does it for me. Another picture, just because it's you:

The upside of this lovely character trait of mine is that I have the patience to spend hours getting May's invitations to look like this on the computer:

(I don't know why that first picture keeps coming out blurred. Apparently, I'm not quite anal enough to try to fix that three times.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I love you internet!

I had some rules for myself when I started this blog malarkey. I shall list some of them so you can then laugh at me for breaking them all:
* no posts about the children's bodily functions, like here
* no depressing posts, like this
* no cutesy children's conversations, like this one, and
* no posts about blogging, like ... well, quite a few of them.
I shall sin again.

This internet thing. It's all I can think of today. So I shall write about it. Chances are some of my readers (my dear, dear readers) are bloggers, too. So there might be a certain level of understanding there.

So. I've been at this for just over a month, and yesterday I had my second surge in readership (yes, Xbox, I still check my Google Analytics - so addictive). 25 readers! I am over the moon. I even had about ten comments!!!

I've had visits now from 15 countries, including Israel, Finland and New Zealand. I've been googled, and some people must have been disappointed coming to me from Google after searching for "boys haircuts", "from Belgium", and (my favourite) "giuliani sleeping on subway".

To a seasoned blogger, I'm sure 25 readers is not so much. It sure made my day, though. So: thank you, dear readers. Thank you for visiting, thank you for commenting. Thank you.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

That good old aaargh time

There's that time of the day when I've had it with being supermum. The time when I feel like I'm going to implode any second now.

On Mondays and Fridays during the school year (aka creche days), this is about seven o'clock, conveniently coinciding with the time I hand both kids over to their daddy for bedtime. (Yes, he does that. Yes, I know I'm lucky. It's their daily one-on-one time.)

Other school days, it's about five o'clock. I often retreat to my beloved internet. I sometimes hide on the toilet for five minutes' breathing space, after dropping my youngest in her playpen.

Today: three o'clock. I think I need a better plan for the holidays.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Happy birthday, USA - from Belgium

On Saturday, we had my first (and very possibly last) Fourth of July party. I've never even celebrated either the Belgian or Flemish national holidays, so this was a strange one. May always talks about this holiday with such passion and obvious love, I thought she could not stay at my house and not celebrate it.

So we had hotdogs, we had hamburgers. We had chips and beer. We had family and friends. (Just re-read that - I didn't mean we consumed them. They were invited and not eaten.) I have been told these are all appropriate things to have. I also dressed up in red, white

and blue.

As did Marie.

There were decorations:

May calls this collage "reasons we don't hate America".

This wall of pride quickly deteriorated into:

With thanks to Ms. Moon for introducing me to Jon and Kate. I thought I hung up Britney Spears, but apparently that is her sister. I think there is a certain level of not caring going on here.

But fun was had by all. AND! It turns out that if you serve junk at a party (hamburgers, chips, hot dogs) it is much cheaper. No need for avocados, fancy booze or expensive things like vegetables. Nice side-effect.

After the party, we went and did a very un-American thing and went to listen to a Canadian. A brilliant, lovely, amazing Canadian, who makes my heart feel all filled with love: Leonard Cohen.

We had the best seats in the house. There were about fifteen thousand people there, and we were in the sixth row, right in the middle. Could not have been better.

The concert started at eight, and at five to eight the tallest family in the concert hall came to sit right in front of us. These were not the tallest people in Belgium - they had been imported from Holland! And that is a nation of tall, tall people. Bastards. Luckily I managed to see good old Leonard between their giant heads the whole time. During the intermission, my lovely brother-in-law offered me his place and he went to sit behind the giants.

The concert itself was beautiful. More so than I could have imagined.

Overall, an excellent Fourth of July.

Another party picture, courtesy of May.