Monday, September 29, 2008

A cute little visitor

This weekend was a beautiful weekend… nice weather, sunny and not too warm.
Nice enough to do some work in the garden outside and to sit outside and enjoy a nice autumn sun.
Saturday morning we started the weekend with some shopping. Time had come to start organizing the room in which Alain has his office. So we went to Ikea in Zaventem to buy some filing cupboards. Of course we found other nice things to buy and came out of the shop with a very light wallet! (lol)
From Ikea we went back home for a quick lunch, after which Alain took off with Axelle again because she wanted Alain to buy the wood for a cathouse they are going to build together. Indeed, we can not talk ourselves out of it any longer, Axelle wants a kitten so desperately that we will have to give in!
By the time they came back, our visitors had arrived. Inge and Peter live in The Netherlands. They are a very nice couple we met in Turkey years ago (no kids at that time).
In February this year, Inge gave birth to their son Lars. Lars was very excited to see the world and was born 9 weeks too soon. When you have a look at the pictures we took of this cute baby you will have to agree that you can not see it anymore! What a nice little boy he is! Of course we had to take a picture with me holding that little darling… My neighbor Rosette told me it looks good and that I should consider having another baby of my own…. Well… keep on dreaming! It was very very nice to hold this baby in my arms, but I think I’m very used to having a girl age (almost) 11, who is becoming more and more a teenager.
Because of the nice weather I wanted to have a bbq, but nowhere I could find bbq meat, you know the kind of prepared meat with special herbs on it. So the plan changed and I cooked pasta with salmon in white wine with broccoli and mascarpone. The evening ended rather late, but being in such good company, we did not realize it. Hope to see them again soon! And before I forget: Inge and Peter, thanks for the nice gifts you brought us!
Sunday was another beautiful day! I decided to work a bit in the garden. Alain joined me, but not for too long because he was not feeling well. In fact he started to cough more and more and today he was really sick and had to cancel meetings. Poor thing! To come back to Sunday… I trimmed the lavender, Alain helped me with trimming of a tree and he had to do some repairs to Axelle’s bike. Weather was extremely nice and so we could eat outside at noon. Nadine also came by because I had some plants I wanted to get rid of and she was a willing victim to put them in her garden. The plant I wanted to get rid of was “leeuwebekje”, translated this is snapdragon. It’s not that I did not like the plant, but it was taking up too much space and was totally covering other plants we did plant (I did not plant this snapdragon you see!).
This is how the weekend went by too quickly and next weekend will be a busy one because we will have visitors from Marina del Rey. Laurie and Jon will be visiting us. Laurie is the photographer that did the photo shoot we won at school in 2007 at the silent auction! Her husband Jon is planning to open a small brewery in LA
Have a nice week!

From left to right: Peter with Lars, Inge and Alain.
We toasted with a glass of champagne of course!

What a cute baby...

Monday, September 22, 2008

News about the previous week

As I told you in my previous post, Axelle had a week trip with school. They went to Durbuy and had a blast! Friday evening she came home with a lot of stories and we were allowed to listen, not to talk too much!
Anyway, she had a great time, she loved the place were they stayed, she loved the food (amazing!), she loved the activities they did (like nature hikes, adventure hike with walking over unstable bridges and going for the death ride...). Thanks to all the teachers who accompanied our kids and gave them such a nice and unforgettable week!

We had a quiet week at home in the meantime. I organized an evening with my girlfriends at home on Wednesday evening. I hadn’t seen them in more than a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Before we knew it, it was midnight and the next day we had to get out of bed to go to work.
On Thursday evening, Alain and I decided to go out for dinner. We picked a Thai restaurant in Vilvoorde. The food was quiet good, service could have been a bit better, but I think that we got spoiled in the States and that we simply have too high expectations.

On Friday evening our little miss came home and we were glad to be able to hold her in our arms again.

Saturday we had to get up early, since we had planned to go for a test drive with a VW SUV. The drive was rather disappointing, so that car is now excluded from the list we are choosing from. Alain still needs to order his company car!
The rest of the weekend we were test driving a Mercedes. That sure was a very nice car, even nicer because it was an automatic gearbox!

On Saturday evening Emma, John and the kids joined us for a drink and on Sunday we had to go to my parents. In their village they had a huge garage sale. Axelle took the opportunity to buy strip albums from “Jommeke” and “Suske and Wiske”. Both are Belgian comic strips.

Unfortunately I already started to feel sick yesterday (Sunday) and today I woke up with a bad cold. Now I’m sniffing and coughing the whole day long. Hopefully I’ll feel better the coming days.

I’m also glad to be able to post some pictures. On Saturday we did a lot of work in our garden in the late afternoon. I was trimming the tree while Alain took care of the bad weeds in the lawn.

Also our shower is now fully finished, the bathroom being repainted in a nice purple color…
I also post some pictures about the other paint jobs I did during my extra holiday month (August). Just to show that I was “working” and not just sitting on my behind!

Nele, our Belgian friend in Pasadena, gave us a surprise call today! That was a lot of fun! Promise Nele, next time we’ll call you guys!
Our shower. The color looks "flashy" on this picture,
but it is less flashy when you see it in our bathroom!
In Axelle's room I had to paint blue and green... she did the rest with wall stickers.

In our bedroom I used the same green color as in our living room.

I'm in action, trimming the tree

Alain taking care of the bad weeds... hopefully this works. We'll have the results in like 3 weeks!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Busy weekend and Axelle's school trip

Hi all,
Sorry it took some time to write a bit on the blog, but nothing much happened and so I did not know what to write about.
This weekend was a rather busy one. Started on Friday evening with a birthday party Axelle had to go to. Her best friend Lore celebrated her 11th birthday and so they organized a party with sleepover. Axelle had a great time!
Alain was invited for a dinner with ex colleagues and afterwards we were supposed to go to the movies together. As you can read: supposed to, you can already imagine that we did not get there. At 9.30pm I received a call from the restaurant to come over and join them, since he just got his plate on the table and it would be a close call to get to the movie theater.
We had a few glasses of wine and decided we would see the movie some other day.
On Saturday I went shopping with some friends and on Saturday evening we went to a new restaurant that recently opened in Elewijt: "Les Jumeaux" (or translated The twins).
Why this restaurant is called that way, I do not get it yet... The food we got served was delicious. We tried the whole tapa menu and got a nice selection of fried calamari, shrimp, fish, potatoes with spicy sauce, and a lot of other very tastefull preparations.
We ended the evening in Mechelen in a lounge bar and were very happy to get in bed by 2 am.
On Sunday Alain had a tennis match to play and I prepared Axelle's luggage for her school trip.
In the afternoon the sun came out and we could even have a bbq outside with my parents.

Today Axelle left for a full week to Durbuy (remember I wrote about this smallest village in the world a few weeks ago). 5th and 6th grade left this morning in 2 coaches. They are going to have a wonderful week! They'll do a lot of outdoor activities and also trying to get to know the students is one of the goals of this week trip. Friday afternoon they'll be back, so the house will be kind of quiet this week.
More about Axelle's week next weekend...

In the meantime I wish you all a nice week!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First days at school - First days at work - Administration problems

Yes, this is a title with 3 parts.
Let's start first with Axelle and her first days at school.
Today, September 3, when all your kids in Marina del Rey go to school for the first day, she is already at school for day 3! Axelle was very excited about going back to her old school (De Regenboog) here in Belgium. When we went to enroll her, the principal told us she would be back with her old class. This was indeed very good news to all of us. Axelle would be in class again with all the kids she left in 2006. First day, September 1, went very smoothly. She came home by herself on her bike and was very enthusiastic about her teacher and the new school year. Day 2, yesterday, she came home with homework, but seemed to manage it. She already had French too and her friend told her mom that she did well (Axelle did not tell me anything at all!). Of course we know that she will need some time to adjust to the Belgian school system, so we are not pushing it too hard.
September 1 and Kristine
September 1 was also a big step for me, since I started work again. Yes, yes... gone are all the nice days of taking care of my little family without having to worry about a lot of things. September 1 I started later because I drove Axelle to school with Alain and not a lot of people were there in time anyway. After some coffee and a lot of talking with friends and colleagues I had not seen for quite some time (some 2 years!), the day was soon over. Yesterday we had a first meeting with our team to decide what tasks would be handed over to me and what exactly would be my work for the time to come. Today I have a free day, because I never work on Wednesday. I feel that this week will not be a week of doing a lot of work at the job but more of trying to find my way again and trying to locate colleagues.
Administration problems
That was this morning at the town hall and I post this message for all our Belgian friends who are still in LA. They might have to take action!? What happened a few weeks ago? We went to the town hall with the letter from the Belgian Consulate in LA stating we had been living for 2 years in Marina del Rey. They took notes that we would live again in Elewijt. Later the local police came by the house to confirm that we live here and the next day I could go to the townhall to fill out paperwork to get a new Belgian identity card. Late last week, we received a letter stating that our identity cards had arrived and that we should go and pick them up and that we should bring our "old identity cards". And this is where the problem starts! When we arrived at the consulate in LA, we were asked to return our identity cards to the consulate and we did NOT receive another identity card to replace that one. So here we were this morning explaining that in LA they took our cards but gave us nothing in return (normally you receive a blue identity card when you are a Belgian citizen in a foreign country). At the town hall they told us that this was standard procedure and that we should return these blue identity cards now. We said that this was not possible because we never ever received a blue card. The waiting started and they were looking up stuff in their computer to try and find out what to do. Could they give us our new identity cards without receiving the "for us non existing" blue ones? Finally all ended well and they believed us and we received our precious little cards. I just want to warn our Belgian friends to contact the Belgian consulate in LA because it is not fun to have such problems when you arrive back in Belgium. It is of course possible that administration personnel here did not know of some procedures maybe valid in the States? I don't know... Anyway, our advice: Play it safe and ask before you decide to move back!
But so now we are Belgian citizens again and we sincerely hope this is the end of the administration we had to go through. Hereafter a picture from my office in Brussels and a picture from our garden (taken this weekend when the sun was still out, today it is a grey day!).

Hereunder, my desk... on the 7th floor (top floor). Still need to put some pictures up, but did not take the time to do that yet.
Hereunder, the garden and house....