Friday, December 2, 2016

Kabouter conversations - November 2016

  • We are raking the leaves in the garden together and Kabouter is whining that his boots are short and mine come at knee length.
    K: "Ik wil ook die!"
    G: "Ja maar nu heb je al mooie laarsjes eh. Maar als je gegroeid bent en deze zijn te klein, zullen we er ook hogere kopen."
    K: "Ja dan moeten mijn benen langer zijn!"

  • Kabouter is eating a self-baked muffing when I need to get something in the neighbour pharmacy.  Kabouter loves to go to the pharmacy as he gets vitamine C candies.
    G: "Oh , je ben je cakeje aan het eten, nu kan je geen vitamientjes nemen."
    Kabouter stares at me confused/thinking
    K: "Maar ik heb toch 2 handjes?"

  • "De saus is stout!"   after he dipped his chips in a spicy dip

  • "Dan wordt het kapot!"  when he tells his little brother not to lean on his toy garage

  • "We gaan eerst om Beertje en dan gaan we beetje rondrijden" (I told him we'd have to search for a parking spot)

  • K : "Dat moeten we ook vragen aan Sinterklaas!  En dit! En dat ook ! En dit aan Sinterklaas! En dat. Dat ook eh! En dat. Dat ook, en dat! Dat wil ik ook van Sinterklaas! ....."
    G: "Denk je dat Sinterklaas dat allemaal kan brengen als je zoveel dingen vraagt?"
    K: "Hij heeft toch 2 handjes??"

  • K:" Die melk is koud!!!!" (whining)
    G: "Ja die komt uit koelkast"
    K: "En ook uit de koe!"
    (can't argue with that)

  • "Dat mag jij niet eten Kleintje" (he talks to his brother....very confronting when he copies my words)

  • "Later als ik groot ben...ja op zaterdag, dan dan dan ga ik werken in de winkel"

  • G: "Ga je mama een beetje helpen opruimen?"
    K: "Straks....donderdag! Ja donderdag ga ik helpen."

  • K: "Het is al donker! Wij gaan dan slapen eh. Straks! Straks gaan we slapen. als het zaterdag is." (he announced that on Monday)

  • K: "Is het nu woensdag?"
    G: "Nee het is maandag"
    K: "Hoe komt dat?"

    (did you notice, he's constantly experimenting with the days of the week?)

  • "Kijk, muurtrapjes!"  (In Amsterdam, pointing at the doorsteps of a house)

  • "Ik krijg een beetje honger van de dierentuin."

  • "Dit is dan een echte vakantie eh, zo met die palmbomen."  

  • G: "Wat wil jij later worden als je groot wordt?"
    K: "Een paard! Euh nee, een dinosaurus en dan ga ik Whaaarrrl doen."

  • "De leeuwen waren samali aan het eten! Of Heps."  (the lions in the zoo were eating on a huge piece of meat)

  • J: "Staat de stelling nog voor ons huis?"
    K: "Nee, die is weg."
    J: "Oh waar is die dan?"
    K: "Die is achter."
    J: "Wie heeft dat dan gedaan?"
    K: "Die mannen met vuile schoenen."

  • "Jij moet mij helpen. Mijn handen zijn kapot."
    "Jij moet mij dragen, mijn voeten zijn kapot."

  • "Daar zit een kusje in!"
    (he noticed at his grandparents's home the card he made in class and sent.  There's a print of his lips on the inside)

  • "Een banaan is ook een beetje een bruggetje eh?"

  • "Papa, papaaaaa, papa, ik ben onder uw stoel gekruipt met mijn benen."  (oh I adore his language mistakes. It is so tempting never to correct him)

  • "Ik ben Kabouter [family name].   Papa is ook [ family name], eh?  En Beertje is een klein beetje [ family name], eh? (just a little bit apparently :D)

  • He arrives downstairs the morning after we've put his shoe for Sinterklaas a first time.  Due to workers in our home we moved the concerned shoe away from the fireplace and put it with some candy on the table.
    G: "Oh waar is je schoen naartoe? Je schoen is weg. Heeft Sinterklaas je schoen mee?"
    K: [gasps]
    G: "Wat is er gebeurd?"

  • K: "Mamaaaa, maar ik wil iets anders"
    G: "Wat wil je dan?"
    K: "Dat weet ik niet? Jij moet dat zeggen"

    K: "Ik wil iets anders."
    G: "Wat wil je?"
    K: "Kriebeltjes!"

  • "Maar ik wil niet in bad. Maar ik stink niet!
    (5 min later when he sees the filled foamy bath and Jan goes in)
    G: "Ok jij mag kijken, je hoeft niet in bad hoor als je dat niet wil"
    K: "Maar ik stink wel!!"

  • "Ik ben al een beetje groot eh? Maar ik wil nog heel hoog worden zoals jou papa en ook mama"

  • Ik ga even naar het toilet. Dan heb ik wel weer plek in mijn buikje voor 2 snoepjes.

  • "Jaaaaaaaa het is gelukt!!" (sudden announcement after stirring in his chocolate milk for a very long time)

  • "Da's van mama's en papa's eh?" ( after they announced "Daydream" on the radio from The Mama's and the Papa's. hear everything)

  • "Kijk de K van Ketnet"

    Die is van jou eh!    (he recognises in the huge name on a big commercial chain a letter which is in my name. He has a great interest in letters and numbers and constantly asks which letter belongs to which names of people he knows.  He know consistently starts to know the first letter of my name and his name :)  )

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Refuge in the Ardennes

While we were roofless in Leuven,
while Beertje was recovering from a bronchitis and an ear infection,
while I was recovering from some sort of zombie mode due to many sleepless nights,

I took some days off (quite ironic after 2 extended weekends already, no?) and took the children to go and rest in the Ardennes. It was my intention to spend some days on the sofa with a book or tv, but that's hard to achieve with 2 little children.  First of all, they are arrive full of energy each time we arrive over there, as they've just had a really good long nap in the car when I couldn't nap (dugh obviously).

While I didn't want to venture out with Beertje yet in the freezing cold, I found it challenging to keep Kabouter occupied all day in the house.  He seems to get quickly bored by something.
The 2nd day was better as we went for grocery shopping together, I had Kabouter help me a bit in the kitchen and we went for a freezing 30 minute walk where both kids returned asleep. Woohoo, peace & quiet ....and I noticed I didn't feel that need to nap so strongly anymore.  Slowly I started to catch up sleep again. On the 3rd day we all slept in and time started speeding up.

Those 3 days reenergized me in the way I really really needed it, but I was glad to return to our (still roofless) home and to Jan to get some adult conversations again. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Count your blessings - November 2016

  1. A commute through the woods and along quiet fields with rolling hills with pheasants observing quietly the passing traffic.
  2. A little red pompon and a giant blue jacket with tiny legs underneath, running around in the park
  3. A little body crawling against yours, leaning in when you start to read a story, a small hand on your lap.  A voice that finishes your sentences of the lines we've read so often before
  4. A baby that drinks at your chest, ...pauzes...looks up and says "Mama" with a smile...and then eagerly continues to drink. 
  5. Baking cookies with a toddler
  6. A toddler that seems to sleep deeply at night, not getting disturbed when the rest of us go to bed later on or when his baby brother protests/whines at night , now that we are forced to all share 1 bedroom due to renovations.  (at least for as long as his baby brother didn't get ill)
  7. Listening to 3 men/boys breathing peacefully asleep in your bedroom    
  8. Plumbers that manage to move a heating system with less disruption that initially planned and communicated
  9. Colleagues (all with small children) who smile understandingly "we know what it's like", when you arrive late in your first morning meeting.
  10. A week of predicted dry weather to end the renovating waiting game and to make things happen
  11. Our little spot in the Ardennes to retreat to 
  12. Antibiotics that change your miserable sick baby into a smiling baby full of mischief and initiative again
  13. Internet tv that can be streamed to your big screen when the satelite is out

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blue sky

The waiting for a predicted week of dry weather is over...let's now hope the prediction was correct and that the possible small amount of rain on Thursday & Friday is negligible.  And let's hope the works go allright.

I'm surprised that we managed to keep a good comfort level on the 2 floors that we are still using, although the gas usage will surely be a lot higher this month.

Nevertheless I took both children and we are now recovering from illnesses and lack of sleep in the Ardennes while enjoying the roof over here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Our new cleaning help

Apparently Kabouter had a student teacher is his class and they worked on the theme of "cleaning". At the end of the week he came home with a cleaning diploma.  We were joking whether he'd help us clean now. "Where is my kid's broom" he answered?


Ok, it's just a word boy.  So Jan shopped downtown with him today and they came home with a kid's cleaning set. He was very proud to show it and immediately got going.
The results needed some adjustment but it was so cute to watch him :D.  What a sweet heart.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tough day

Beertje has had a cold for a while now but I noticed it had worsened last week.  I had been working long days myself.

On Thursday I checked his fever and it was ok but at night I noticed he was glowing. I got up to go and search for some medication but I didn't dare to wake him up yet.  He got more and more restless and a bit later I was giving him medication. Unfortunately a coughing attack later, I could change his clothes, mine and mop the floor.  He was very miserable and I couldn't get him back to sleep anymore.  In order to prevent Kabouter from waking up, we moved down to the sofa for most of the night.

In the morning it was clear that Beertje couldn't go to daycare and I was way to tired to work. I booked a doctor's appointment, mailed work that I'd take a day off.

Kabouter was tired and cold and I had to practically drag him to school for the very first time.

It took a long waiting time at the doctor's office.  Beertje slept through it at a moment I couldn't join him in a nap.
The verdict was a bronchitis for Beertje.

I put soup in the microwave, turned and turned wondering why I was in the kitchen.  "Soup" said Jan.  I took the bowl out again and started to eat in order to realise I had not heated the soup yet.

Beertje and I went to nap but he was snoring and breathing so heavily (and only wanted to sleep in my arms) that he was keeping me awake.   Right when I had dozed off as well, some technician rang the front door bell for the appointment to fix our fire more nap

I decided to go to the city hall to pick up our new identity cards that should have arrived.  I realised after a short while that I was waiting in the wrong waiting hall. When arrived at the right desk, I noticed I had no longer the digital codes that I was supposed to bring on me: those had dropped out of my purse at home before I left. So I had to return home without success.
I wanted to rush back by taking the bus and in my fatigue waze, I jumped on the wrong one.

Traffic in Leuven had just come to a complete standstill due to an accident on the nearby highway and a late night shopping event with road closures downtown. So the bus had to take a detour and I was stuck for 20 min before I arrived at the first stop where I could get off and try to find the correct bus home.  In the end I simply walked. At one point I had tears in my eyes.

I recovered myself a bit during the evening but I was glad to be able to go to bed and hope that Beertje would allow us some more sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Baking biscuits

A big storm was predicted: rain, heavy wind gusts, ... Parks were closed and warnings were issued. The perfect day to cocoon at home.  Instead of walking to the weekly market, our neighbour came over for coffee and the kids were playing together.

Afterwards I promised Kabouter to bake biscuits together. I had planned to do this already a long time on a bad weather day and I had ensured Friday I had sufficient ingredients at home to make it happen this weekend.   Kabouter was quite eager to get started and was running around making an inventory of what we needed " mom, we need 2 spoons...and also a bowl, we need this plate?"

I especially needed the recipe as I had never....(I'll enter a pause here to grasp that confession) ....baked biscuits or cakes or anything before in my life.  A tiny bit scary, but I asked some supervision from Jan to ensure I started off with a well kneaded dough.

And then our fun could start: rolling out the dough and cutting our little star and car forms  and decorating our cookies. Easy and fun, to repeat in the future :).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sinterklaas arrived in Leuven

Sinterklaas arrived last weekend with his boat from Spain. Kabouter has watched the news on tv with some interest but without a lot of concentration.  He's interested but doesn't seem to get all the excitement and tension yet.

Since we had obligations in Leuven this weekend, I was happy to see that we could combine with the official arrival of Sinterklaas in Leuven. After an hour of rushing Kabouter to eat his lunch swiftly, not to go and sit for half an hour on the toilet , ... all in vain (Sinterklaas is not yet an incentive), we rushed down to the train station.  Yep apparently in Leuven he arrives by train??  We were a little late, but I could see some Zwarte Pieten dance on the square from far and heard music while approaching. Sinterklaas was just entering his horse carriage. 

As we had difficulty to have a good view, I rushed a bit in front of the parade to halt further and wait for them to come to us at a spot where we had sufficient space to park the double stroller .
Kabouter waved without hesitation when I encouraged him to do so and got Sinterklaas waving at him back. 

We rushed once more in a parallell street and waited at the city hall for them to come again. Beertje thought it wasn't very interesting. But the Zwarte Pieten gave a good dancing show and Kabouter was clapping eagerly along and applauded after every song.  This time he seemed very disappointed and confused when Sinterklaas mounted his carriage again and left.  He claimed the dancing Zwarte Pieten were most fun.

One newly wed couple leaving the city hall had the honor to be blessed by the good Holy man right away. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Amsterdam, the hell - Amsterdam, the heaven

The last months there's been several news articles claiming that Amsterdam has a tourist problem: there are too many of them and they are now searching how to become less successful.

Indeed I hate the city center of Amsterdam because of

  • It's hords of people, mostly tourists filling every corner, making it very hard/impossible to progress anywhere without bumping into people. According to the news, they become a security issue.
    The fact that there's also big groups of tourists on bike tours, while they clearly don't know how to ride a bike properly, definitely not in the busy center traffic is very unsafe too.
  • The sweet piss smell of cannabis that seems to be omnipresent in the tourist sites. If your city center hotel room needs to publish warnings in the rooms that you can't blow in the room, there's an issue. 
  • The abundance of crappy tourist stores selling endless "AMSTERDAM" toques, plastic clogs, marihuana T-shirt prints and fake tulips, ...The many cheese stores that only sell bolls of Gouda type of cheeses as if that's the most innovative cheese range you can have (and tourists that block the door taking pictures)...
  • Horeca that is limited to mediocre Argentinian steak houses, Italians or endless low budget snackbars with bad service and limited unimaginative menu choices
  • Tourist trap musea like "The Amsterdam horror museum", the Sex Museum, ...
  • Endless lines for qualitative museums like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, ...
  • Foreigners on the trams not understanding/listening to the instructions of the drivers to move forward and make place for the other people that want to get on
  • Lack of payable parking
  • Not much green space in the city center

Yet is is and remains a gorgeous city with
  • The high beauty of the grachten in all seasons if you manage to get out of the most popular busy streets
  • Beautiful buildings
  • A great variaty of world class museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage Amsterdam, The Van Gogh Musuem, Stedelijk Museum, the Rembrandthuis, Holocaustmuseum,...
  • The more residential area's of Oud-Zuid that have real culinary gems. 
  • Walkable distances
  • Good public transport (=> so park on the outside of the city and use the public transport to get in the city center)
  • New fun development across het Ij (with free ferry rides)
  • Markets
  • Attractive parks outside of the main grachten (Vondelpark, Westerpark)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sitting down

After mastering the skill to stand up, Beertje has now also mastered the skill to gently sit down again over the previous week.

That makes a huge difference. While he could pull himself up and hold on to e.g. a small table, he could not go sit down again. So he was holding on and holding on and holding on until he got really tired and cramped and started to cry from fatigue.  Or he was holding on and holding on and then he let go and he fell and started to cry. When he was holding on to grab a thing on the table (it's always full of interesting stuff to him) and to throw it on the was out of reach and he'd start to cry because he couldn't reach for the object anymore.

Do you notice the crying trend? There was no happy end.  Because in a baby's logic, it's not good either if we released him from holding on and helped him gently to sit down again. Hah, hell no, parents are not allowed to sabotage the newly conquered autonomy of standing up.

But our evenings are a bit more relaxed now, as he now pulls himself up at our leg, a table, a box, ...and then goes back to sitting to crawl further and to pull himself up somewhere else.  What an ease to have a baby with such an independence...until we didn't look for a minute and he was in the kitchen on top of the mini staircase. Whaaa, too much autonomy! Now please stop growing up so fast!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Made in Belgium: Freaky Age

Freaky Age is an indy pop band that got discovered at the Humo's rock rally in 2006.  Their single "Where do we go now" was a big hit and they've toured a lot of festivals. They were even programmed at SXSW in 2010. Nevertheless it's fairly silent from them since.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


It's difficult to be city-tripping in a city where you've worked for 3 years. Even though I did no visiting whatsoever during my working days here and I divided my time back then between the office, the hotel room and the restaurants near the Museum quarter, I have the feeling that I know this city too well for visiting. If for 3 years you rode multiple times in the tram across the Dam square per week, you don't feel the need to go and visit it anymore and take pictures of the royal Palace.

(Note: our visit in 2014 proved that wrong as we had a very fun weekend where I discovered so many new nice neighbourhoods of the city!)

While there's a dozen of musea in Amsterdam that I'd love to explore extensively, I figured the "extensively" would be an issue for the children. But we found an excellent alternative : we'd visit the downtown Artis zoo.  Bonus: since we have a subscription to the Belgian zoo, we could enter for free!! (Jan didn't have his card on him, but the man at the cash register was kind enough to let him pass for free as well. yeaay).

Our little fan of zoo's was running around enthusiastically with is red pompon toque on his head  "can we go to the elephants?" "where are the elephants" "Oh look mommy, come come here. " "oooh" "Can I go and see over there?"  "Is this the way to the elephants?".

Artis is a narrow rectangular city center zoo which isn't very large, but it has multiple houses that would make it very good for a visit on a rainy day as well : the aquaria, the monkey house, reptile house, bird/monkey house, ... Due to lack of space there isn't a huge number of large animals (e.g. 4 lions on a really small spot - no other big cats) but e.g. for the elephant family there is new larger accomodation under construction.
There is only one restaurant (with plenty of child seats) which offered more healthy snacks and drinks than on average on such public restaurants yet the waiting time was cruel. It was a non-busy day and it took us 30 minutes before we were all served with food in the self-service line.

We were lucky to see a 4-week old baby elephant nursing with his mom, but Kabouter's highlight were apparently the lions who were in the midst of their meal when we walked by (Our toddler told us they were eating "samali") and the fish  (we found Nemo and we found Dory).

There was a baby polar bear in the zoo on the day we visited :)