Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas wishes

No sunny sky, no walks on the beach, but....
A white Christmas!

Yes indeed, we got some snow here since last week (Thursday) and even now it's still very white in the garden... everything still covered with a layer of snow.

So we have a white Christmas this year!

We wish you lots of love and friendship ....

Enjoy the holiday season and soon we'll be sending wishes for the new year!

Love you all

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Halloween party

On Saturday, October 31st I organised a Halloween Party ... those who could not be there, too bad for them! The kids had a great time playing games, the grown up (?) had a few drinks and enjoyed seeing other friends at the party.
In one of the pictures you'll see Niki, the cat... but no worries, that's before people started to arrive, once the party started she got a safe spot in Axelle's room. The evil witch (me) could well do without her pet for one night and anyway, I had the devil to keep me company and the disco cat (Axelle) as well...

For sure we'll have another party in 2010....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So, finally here I am with some pictures of my holiday in Italy this summer.
Sorry it took such a long time, but... the excuse everybody uses: no time!

I've got some problems with this website as well, can not seem to move pictures once I've uploaded them... so they're a little bit mixed. Sorry for that too!

Hereunder, the gang at the Da Vinci Museum at Vinci, the little town we were staying at. From left to right: Valérie (Marc's daughter, myself and Nadine and in front Arno, Axelle and Kris)
In Florence, we saw very beautiful architecture and of course the statue of David.
We had an incredible view at our pool, it was just lovely to relax there.
On our way to Vinci, we stayed one night in Milan....
The view from our house in Vinci was georgeous!
A visit to the tower of Pisa was of course also planned.
A small town close to where we lived... beautiful.... unfortunately I kind of forgot the name
We visited Florence, known for its big cathedral
We only did window shopping on this bridge over the "ARNO"... check the other picture to see what it looks like from the other side and also see Arno (Nadine's son) on the river Arno...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

She's got the.... flue!

No no, don't be alarmed, it's not the MEXICAN version, just regular flue!
Saturday it started when we were at Kris and Nadine's for dinner. She got a headache!
So she got a painkiller, but on Sunday morning she still had this headache and was feeling very warm, she had a fever! Also a cough started to add, by Sunday evening she was sick as hell and on Monday not feeling any better.

Called the doctor for a house visit. That's a nice thing here, you do not have to move you sick child to the doctor's office, he comes to see you in your cosy home!

I guess he underestimated this virus a bit, because he only gave her a certificate for 2 days. Today she should be at school, but she's still batlling this virus, still has a fever, still is coughing.... so no school for her!

Went back to the doctor and got a new certificate, she'll be at home till the end of the week, should be free of fever by the weekend, otherwise we'll have to start up antibiotics!

I'm crossing fingers now that I'm not getting this virus! Let's say: I DO NOT WANT YOU STUPID VIRUS! Got too much work to finish, too much shopping to do for my party at Halloween, too much of everything so I can not afford to get sick right now!

As you can read, nothing exciting is going on right now... except that I'm surfing the net go find good deals on hotels and rental cars for next summer. If Marc and his daughters are coming along, I'm sure they're gonna want to see some nice things over there, not just sit at the pool and enjoy a lovely Nancy-made Margarita and enjoy Puska and Jana's cooking! (although we definitely do not want to skip that part either)

So if anybody has some good advise for me... please do not hesitate and skype me, mail me or post a comment.

Thanks! Love and big hugs from sunny but cold (now 1.5°C this morning) Belgium!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A new school

Since September 1, Axelle is going to a new school in a town nearby called Mechelen.
She's taking classes at Pitzemburg Atheneum. She picked the school because starting this grade, she immediately gets English too. Most of the time you do not get this in 7th grade.
She insisted on going to this school for that reason mostly.

Since September 1, we already had quite some excitement! There was a general bomb alert in all schools in Mechelen, so the police was everywhere! Nothing happened but safety measures were enormous!

Axelle enjoys going to school, but there is a lot of work, because testing is almost a daily thing! Tomorrow she has a French and another test... and on Monday she has Dutch....
Next week they are going on a field trip, for 3 days. They leave on Wednesday morning to come back on Friday evening, they are going to the Ardens, that's the southern part of Belgium.

They organise this trip to help them get to know each other and to give teachers also the opportunity to get to know their students.

I'm sure it's gonna be fun!

What can I say about me at this moment... nothing much... It's very busy at work, lots of trainings going on, lots of things to do and to check on. Time flies when you're having fun.
I'm having so much fun that on October 1, I'll be for 25 years working for this company, that does not make me any younger does it!

So I decided this calls for a celebration and in honour of my 25 years at the company, I'm organising a Halloween party.

Axelle is helping me out a great deal, since she's making some of the Halloween decorations together with my friend Marc (who's actually, I did not give away this information yet, an artist). So they are both making spiders to decorate the house.

Of course you'll hear more about this and see pictures about it as soon as the party is over...

That's it for now folks!

Big hug and kisses from an incredible warm and sunny Belgium....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Trip to Italy

Yes we're back... already a good week, but have been so busy that I did not find the time to write about the trip we took to Italy.
We, that's: Kris (Axelle's godfather, Nadine (his wife) and their son Arno, Axelle, Marc (my boyfriend), Valérie (his daughter) and me.
Beginning of the year we rented an apartment in a farm in Tuscany (close to the village Vinci) and on July 16 we finally could go there and discover it all. Vinci is the childhood town of Leonardo da Vinci...
We went with two cars and took it very relaxed! We only drove to Colmar the first day, which is really not so far, but we were only supposed to arrive on Saturday, July 18 in the afternoon in our apartment, so we had a lot of time to travel. This was the "No stress express".
At Colmar, Nadine found us a nice bed & breakfast for hardly no money... We paid 135 EUR for 7 persons, breakfast included! Try to do better?!
When we arrived in Colmar the sun was still out and we decided to go for a swim in the pool. Hunger took us to the centre, where we had a nice little dinner on a market place. An evening walk through town before we went back to our bed & breakfast and the holidays had started!
During the night a thunder storm came over and that kind of decided about the weather we would have next day. The whole drive through Switzerland was in pouring rain! No sun to be seen... more than one hour wait at the Goddard tunnel... do I need to mention we were happy to arrive in Milan, where the sun was shining and making it possible for us to go discover the city and find a restaurant for our dinner. We could sit outside, the only negative thing was we got visitors at our table: mosquitos!
Next day we moved further on to Vinci, drove for a few more hours and stopped in Lucca. Nice little town, where we had a late lunch before arriving at our final destination, Streda at Vinci. The farm was located on top of a hill, with a splendid view. The swimming pool soon was discovered by our youngest ones... it was located at the edge of the hill, which made it spectacular to be in and outside the pool area!
On Sunday we decided to stay home, so the kids could fully (and also the adults of course) enjoy the pool... temperatures were definitely rising (up to 38°C) and so the water was very refreshing.
On Monday, we took the cars to go to Pisa. Road works and traffic slowed us down, but finally we arrived at destination and we were very very lucky to find 2 parking spots in the same street. Pisa was very busy!
Of course we had to see the famous leaning tower... but before we arrived there, Nadine tripped over something and fell hard on her knees. We managed to continue our visit, but by the end of it, she was in a lot of pain and needed to take painkillers and ice her knee.
So we decided to stay home again on Tuesday, to give the knee some rest and also to give the kids the opportunity to enjoy the pool.
On Wednesday we did just a little trip, only like 15 kilometers from where we stayed was a beautiful little town called San Miniato. We visited the Rocca of San Miniato, but Nadine did not go up all those stairs and I went up but not to the top of the tower. Axelle was very nice and she stayed with Nadine the whole time we were up there!
Next day we took the local train to Florence. I think it must have been the heat that day, but I was not feeling well and had the impression I would faint. The train was very packed, but lucky I got hold of a seat! After like 30 minutes we arrived in Florence, where Nadine guided us through the city (she'd been there before). We took a nice walk through the center and saw the famous cathedral (il duomo) and other very nice ancient buildings, fountains and statues.
On Friday, Nadine and Kris took a little trip by themselves, while we stayed home to enjoy one last time the beautiful weather and the pool.
Indeed, on Saturday we had to drive back and got delayed by traffic jams. We stopped close to Milan, where we had a rendez-vous with Alain, who was taking Axelle to Croatia. So Axelle went from one holiday next to another. Actually, she's still on holiday with her dad... by now the're in Paris, visiting a friend from the US who is now living in Paris.
She'll be back home later this week...
We had, again, a very long wait at the Goddard tunnel and at the Swiss boarder. So once we got through the tunnel, we decided to get us a place to sleep and so we stayed one night in Switzerland.
On Sunday we continued the trip and around 5.30 pm we arrived at Kris' parents who offered us a very nice dinner. Thanks!

I will... I promise, post pictures of this very nice trip. But, first I have to be home to do this...
This short post was written during my lunch break at work!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

6th grade graduation at DE REGENBOOG (the rainbow) school

After what has been a very difficult school year, with a lot of catching up for Axelle, yesterday it all ended well.

YES, OUR "little" (actually not that little considering that she is outgrowing me!) GIRL DID IT…. She obtained her certificate to go to the next school, a certificate without any restrictions which means that she can choose whatever school she wants…

We celebrated, with an official ceremony, the graduation of our 6th graders (this is kind of the same as the graduation of the 5th graders we had last year in Coeur d’Alene in Marina del Rey!).

In September she started the new school year with 2 years of catching up for Dutch (since she had not had grammar for 2 years), 1 year of French (grammar and vocabulary), and also math since the level of math seems to be a bit higher over here too. Poor thing… it was a lot to ask to a 10 year old who still likes to play a lot and have fun.

With the help of Hannelore, her private math teacher, we saw a real difference in her results. Actually also with Dutch… practice seems to help a lot.

But, who knows me, also knows that I’m the worrying kind and that I only believe the achievement when I actually see it… so no need to tell that I was stressed out this entire school year.

Needless to say that when the ceremony was over I had a good glass (and more than one) of white wine to celebrate this hard work!

Here are already some pictures…

Today we’re having a bbq for my dad’s 75th birthday. I was up like an early bird this morning, since the little birdies were making a lot of noise in the garden and kept me from sleeping. But I guess that was OK, in this way I started early preparing for the party.

To all the kids around the world: I’m sure you deserved your holidays! ENJOY!!!

Picture 1: Part of the 6th graders.
Picture 2: Lore (Axelle's best girlfriend and Axelle)
Picture 3: Axelle getting her certificate we so much hoped for!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Musical at Axelle's school - some pictures

And a few pictures from the school musical. I also wrote about this in my post today.
Axelle should have performed 3 times, but she only did the Saturday afternoon performance (see my post). She was singing through the entire show.
I taped almost all the songs, but it is such a pain in the.... uploading those movies that I do not feel like doing it today. Just getting these pictures on line took me already quite some time!
The show was about a bee queen and all the insects you can imagine... spiders, grass hoppers, caterpillars... and so on.... It was beautiful!
All the kids performed well and enjoyed being on stage (as you can see in the pictures)....

Procession Pictures

On June 1 we had a procession in Elewijt... as mentioned in my post today Axelle was participating... Here are some pictures:

Events from the last weeks

Hi it’s been some time that I wrote on this blog …, nothing special happened, but now I’ve got some new stuff to write about. Nothing major… but anyway, here I go:

We’ve had some really nice weather here in Belgium and so my garden needed some taking care off. We did some hard work in it and now it looks very nice. Unfortunately the ground is sandy and so after a period of not much rain, my yard is immediately yellowish. I did not feel like sprinkling it and now I’m looking at a “not so green lawn”… They announce rain for the rest of the week, so by the weekend it will be looking more greenish I guess.

During that period of nice weather we also had a very big thunder storm that knocked over the big BBQ… actually it was moved from my patio into the lawn and tripped over. Lucky for me it still works… I’ve learned my lesson and now my BBQ is sitting inside until I need to use it. Also during that storm Axelle’s trampoline was moved a few meters… because the wind was so terribly hard! Axelle woke up and came to sleep in my bed, as did a lot of kids (that’s what we heard the next day at school). If I’m really honest, I have to say that she was not the only one being scared… I was too! We came out of the storm rather lucky. The next day we saw on the news that houses were destroyed by lightning or by trees that fell on the houses because of the wind. So no real harm was done for us!

Another nightly adventure was a burglar attempt … that happened last Wednesday. At 2.59 am the alarm system went off. My heart started pounding like mad! You have to know that this is the second time they visit our house around 3 am when I’m sleeping in there! I can assure you that you’re immediately fully awake and that adrenaline is rushing through your body. So we went downstairs to see “nothing”… Everything was still closed and so I was thinking it might have been false alert. I put the alarm back on and went again to bed, to be woken up 50 minutes later again by the alarm. At that time I was getting rather impatient and was giving my alarm system all kinds of names… (you can imagine which ones I guess). I was convinced that again this was a false alert and that my alarm system needed to be checked the next day. (although it had been checked only a few months ago). Next day the technician came and checked the “history” in the display of the alarm system. He confirmed that this had not been false alerts but two attempts to open my garage door. At that point I was “Glad the alarm bell rang”!!!! They could have taken my car out of the garage… or worse, come into the house to get other things…
So the technician checked all my detectors and did a reset of the entire system and told me nothing was wrong with it. I called the police to declare the attempt of burglary… The day before a car had been stolen in the other street where my neighbor Rosette lives and apparently thieves had been visiting other houses as well. So I guess I’m lucky I have my alarm system! At least, now I am….

Thursday night around midnight Axelle called me to tell me she was not feeling well. After an intermezzo of being sick, she finally got back into bed and so did I. I was hardly 10 minutes in my bed, when I heard a loud pounding on the door downstairs. My heart started racing again… this could not be happening! Immediately I was thinking about burglars, but it appeared to be a rather big cat that was trying to get inside to have a chit chat with Niky our cat (haha).

Do I need to say that on Friday night I was listening to every single sound I heard?
Nothing happened anymore and by Sunday night I was sleeping well again. And why not Saturday night?

Friday evening the musical started at school, but Axelle could not participate since she had been ill during the night and was still sick on Friday. We went to see the doctor and she needed to take some medication. On Saturday she participated in the afternoon session of the musical, but was very tired after that one and decided not to go for the final session in the evening. Good thing she didn’t because around 9pm she started to be in so much pain that I decided to call the doctor. The doctor told me to go to the emergency room with her, because she might be starting an appendicitis. Lucky the doctor in the hospital could quickly outrule that one… and he could also help her to get rid of the pain she was going through. Finally around midnight we were back home and she fell asleep almost immediately. I was still very awake by all events of the previous nights…

As you can read, I’ve not been bored lately! Life has been rather exciting!

What else happened… On June 1, we had the yearly procession marching through the streets of Elewijt. I will post some pictures of this event… Axelle was participating, as is custom for the kids that did their communion that year. She was not very excited about having to carry a flag around the whole time… but… what has to be done, has to be done!

And that’s it for now folks! It will be again quiet for some time now, since Axelle is preparing for her finals… You’ll read me again soon…


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Axelle's communion

So on Saturday we had a big day... Axelle's communion.
We got up early in the morning, since we did not think about hairdresser appointments in due time! On Wednesday I found a hairdresser who works on Saturday without appointment, but we could not take any risks and so we got out of bed early to get our hair done. Axelle wanted curly hair and she got it... it was beautiful! I needed a haircut and got one too... while she was cutting my hair I was thinking that soon nothing would be left! Anyway, we got back around 11am at home and Axelle got so excited that she already wanted to put on her new clothes. I did not want her to do that, because I know how she would forget about it and go and play in the garden. We killed time till 3.15pm, time to go to church, we were to meet there at 3.30. The ceremony only started at 4pm and took more than one hour! The priest was not doing a good job (sorry I have to say this), but he was talking about pain, dying aso... not really fun things into relation with your commion I'd say! At the end I began to think he might be in some sort of a depression! When we got out of church, we still had 30 minutes left before the dinner party started. My family came to celebrate Axelle's communion with us, the weather was not too bad, so the kids got to play outside. It was a nice day... that ended way too soon!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today is energy saving day: Thick sweater day

Earlier this week we received instructions from school that on Friday, Feb 13 kids were supposed to put on a good sweater and pants because the heating would be put down in order to save energy and to support the Kyoto plan.

Also if the kids went to school by foot or on their bike today, they would receive something extra at school… all this to try to have less damaging gasses in the air. No need to say that Axelle insisted on going by bike today… I’m curious what she will bring home in the evening…

Also at work we support this action, we received a message they would put the heating lower and so we were supposed to put on warmer clothing. So we did and man, it was necessary… they mean it over here! I’ve been having cold hands the entire day… it was freezing over here… especially with those (again) colder temperatures outside (39°F) and snow water falling out of the sky…

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Happy Birthday

A very happy birthday to our dearest friend (my wife) Tamzen.

Wishing you lots of good things and looking forward to celebrate with you soon.

HUGS & KISSES from all 3 of us

Thursday, January 29, 2009

America here we come

It's been very quiet over here... I had my reasons... I've been very busy lately and did not feel like writing on this blog. Anyway, nothing very exciting has happened, except maybe for the big village party we've had on January 17. Elewijt (where we live) had been elected "Village with a future" last year and so they won a price to throw a big party for all the citizens.
It was nice, we had free drinks, free food and rock bands were playing all kinds of music, only negative point was the fact that it was so cold.
By 8.30pm we were frozen and so we went back home although the party was to continue till 2am.

Except for that party, we did nothing special because Axelle had a lot of testing at school and we had to spend a lot of time with her to study.
First results show that she is improving at school, so we're very happy about that.

At work I had my appraisal meeting with my boss. I was so glad to hear that he was very happy with my return and that he values all my efforts at work. Have to say that I went home that evening with a happy feeling.

But, the title of this post says "America here we come!"... Indeed, we booked our flights.
We'll be leaving April 1 by train to Paris and fly with Air France to LAX, where we will be arriving early afternoon. We'll come back to Belgium on April 15.
In the two weeks we'll be visiting our friends and also have a roadtrip with our friends to visit Tamzen, Jeff and Maia in Albuquerque. They moved from Marina del Rey to New Mexico and live in a nice house with pool. So why not go and see them as well?!
Also some shopping has to be put on the agenda, I'm already making up my shopping list... all the things I miss here in the shops... and the stuff that is a lot less expensive in the States...

So my darlings... have some patience, we'll be there in no time!

Love you all

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Living in winter wonderland

A new layer of snow since Sunday night covers the houses, gardens and streets here in Belgium.
Not funny after two weeks at home to go to work in this kind of weather last Monday. But we managed to get there without accidents (and to get back home too).
On top of this snow, we also got very cold weather... freezing during night and day.
I must say that this layer of snow is beautiful, but it does not make me forget the warm winters we had in Marina del Rey.
Even our Niki, the cat, does not feel like exploring outside, she just looks through the window and that's all.
During the winter holiday we tried to get Niki used to our garden, but she was so scared that most of the time she stayed very close to our garden house or would come running up to the door to get back inside. Hope she'll stay this way and that she will never try to explore the road in front of our house.
School started again this Monday and Axelle told me they had a lot of fun playing in the snow during recreation. First day of school they had an electricity problem (actually it was everywhere in the village and other villages close to ours). No electricity means no heating... Lucky this was only a temporary problem that lasted one hour, otherwise all kids would have to return home.
The cold that we're actually experiencing is going to stay here for another few days... good thing is the fact that it will be sunny and not grey.
Now would be the perfect time to have that jacuzzi in our garden... I definitely have to start working on that plan for our garden... Yes I do...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Few pictures in previous post

As you can see in the post below, I had some trouble with the layout.
I had a lot more pictures on this post, but could not get my layout right, the way I liked it.
Sorry about that!


Sorry it took me such a long time to write another post…
And now it seems I have too much to write about.

What have we been doing lately, since Axelle’s birthday weekend…

Alain and Axelle went on a short ski trip to Les Deux Alpes in France. They left on Friday, December 19 and came back on December 24. They had a great time. Axelle was very proud that she almost did not fall anymore on the slopes. They had a lot of snow and a lot of fun.

On December 20, I went on a day trip with Rosette and my mom and her niece. We went, by coach, to Cologne in Germany to see the famous Cologne Christmas market. I had high expectations and must say that they were not met. We got up early in the morning and only arrived by 11 am in Cologne. The weather was not of any help: rain the entire day and by the end of the day also a lot of wind. Lucky for us the sales had already started in Germany, so we spend some time in the shops. I got myself a nice jacket and a handbag on sale. My other companions also did some shopping. By 9.30 pm I was back home. My conclusion: I will not return to Germany to see a Christmas market, I think our own Christmas markets here in Belgium can compete with what I've seen in Cologne!

Starting December 24, I was also on holiday (till January 5) and so I had enough time to prepare a nice Christmas dinner for December 24. Alain and Axelle came home early that morning and did not feel like staying up too late that evening. On December 25 it was family time… we had dinner with our parents.

On December 26, Axelle had invited the girls from her class to come and celebrate her birthday. We played games, Alain made a big stack of pancakes and at the end of the day 4 kids stayed for a sleepover. They watched a fun movie and went to bed way too late. But they said they had fun and that’s what we wanted to hear the next day.

Last weekend Axelle had a sleepover at my parents and on Sunday, December 28, and we had a “tête à tête” in the sauna. We went to a very big sauna in The Netherlands (Schiedam), Thermen Holiday, were we enjoyed the good life the entire day! This was still a gift we received from our friends when we came home this summer. So thanks guys!

On Monday evening, Nadine and Kris had invited us and Axelle stayed for a sleepover (and she did the same thing on Tuesday). Since we had no kids in the house, we started a big cleaning action. We had been to Ikea to get some chest drawers and started throwing stuff out and filing other things that had been laying around since our move back to Belgium. You can say that we started this new year “clean”…

On Wednesday, December 31, we did some more cleaning during the day and at 5.30 pm we had to be at Nadine and Kris. Kris is member of an organizing committee that organizes a End of the Year party. We were very happy they invited us to go party with them…. Eating, drinking, dancing, having a lot of fun with our good friends… No pictures, sorry… did not feel like taking my camera with me.

And now the new year has started, so let me wish all of you “HAPPY NEW YEAR”, especially “AN EXCELLENT HEALTH” or “A QUICK RECOVERY” (for those who need it right now),
“A FUN YEAR WITH LOTS OF CRAZY MOMENTS, FREE OF WORRIES”, so many things I want to wish all of you, my dear friends, my family…

Here are some pictures…