Liam’s 10th Birthday

So, it occurs to me that I have this blog…

We celebrated Liam’s tenth (TENTH!!!!!) birthday at the end of February. Our oven was broken at the time, so instead of his  requested homemade macaroni and cheese with apple pie for dessert, we went out to our favorite Japanese restaurant. A lovely evening was had by all. Happily, our oven was replaced in time for Jesse’s birthday (yesterday) and the two gentlemen were both treated to mac & cheese and pie. Liam agrees it was worth the wait.

Getting ready to open his packages.

Getting ready to open his packages.

From Gramma and Pa. I think he approves.

From Gramma and Pa. I think he approves.

You can tell by the maniacal look that he's been wating for this one.

You can tell by the maniacal look that he’s been wating for this one.

Fun to build, but the eruption was a bit lackluster.

Fun to build, but the eruption was a bit lackluster.

So Jesse put on his chemist's lab coat and really brought it to life!

So Jesse put on his chemist’s lab coat and really brought it to life!

 

second home

For those that don’t get just how much we consider Scotland our second home….

our house in Belgium. note the car

our home in Scotland. again, note the car. what are the chances that the google cars would capture us in both places? it’s like it was meant to be!

You should also be aware that Harry considers Scotland our “true” home, and this our home during school time only. Make of that what you will. And plan your future visits accordingly 🙂

Scotland 2012

Just some nice shots from our most recent trip to Scotland to share with you. This is the first time we went so late in the year – it was stunningly beautiful. But, not surprisingly, everything “touristy” was down for the season. We spent a lot of time gazing at the beautiful scenery and playing UNO!

Le Labyrinthe

We’ve been out and about doing tons of family activities recently. Two weekends ago we went to Le Labyrinthe – a huge maze constructed of… maize! Each year the labyrinth has a different theme. This year it was the Mayans. I’m sure the animations and spectacles were fun and interesting, but for the boys the real fun was just getting themselves lost and then finding their way out again!

We didn’t beat the rain back to the car. Liam and Jesse took shelter under an umbrella, and Harry insisted on going back on the *^&%$ swing, so I got to stand in the rain with him. After 5-10 minutes, Jesse decided it was time to call it quits. We took refuge in the cafeteria tent. And good thing we did: the sky let loose after that! We waited out the rain and headed back to the car. A fabulous day well spent!

early July pics

hamming it up at the playground.

likewise

Harry playing at the park in Mons

together at Madame Muriel’s.

He’s an old man

getting some help from Dad

Liam’s amazed at Harry’s mad skills.

so, so close!

last day of school and first days of summer

Photographic evidence that we are, in fact, all still alive! So far it hasn’t been much of a summer. Cold and rainy, lots of indoor time, no exciting trips or events as of yet.

Harry, walking home from the last day of school.

Jesse and Harry, making the last trek home from school of the year.

Me, leaving for a run on one of the few warm days we’ve had.

Liam with his bulletin, aka report card. He’s now officially a third grader!

The last couple weeks the boys have been busy with stages – very popular activities over here akin to day camps. The first week they were together in a small group setting and had a fab time together. The second week Liam was in an artsy type stage and Harry was doing his first bicycle stage! He’s not quite there yet, but he is so close to being able to ride on his own! Hoping to get lots of practice time in this next week in between the rain clouds.

Next week our schedule is a little more relaxed – the boys will be home with me, probably driving me each other crazy. Every day on the lunch hour they’ll have swim lessons. I’m determined that this is the year!

new bike

Liam is definitely his father’s son. At eight years old, he stands a head taller than all but one of the kids in his class. The seat of his old bike was adjusted to the very limits, but it was time to get him something bigger. Did we go to the local sporting goods store and get him a perfectly functional but non-descript bike, like my white B’Twin?

No. We did not.

That? Is a Gazelle Freestyler 3-speed. It’s the same make as our Dutch bikes, and it is a work of art.

And that? Is a very very happy kid.

He took it out for several trips today, scratched a bit of the paint in the first hour, and had a blast. I’m sure there will be plenty of dings and scratches in the future – we may have to repaint it when it comes time to pass it on to Harry. But this is a bike that will stand the test of time. He is in LOVE with his new bike. And, I must admit, I’m a little smitten, too.

 

garden time!

Spring has sprung here in Belgium! Which means, naturally, that it’s time to put in the garden. But first, a couple random shots of the boys enjoying rare cups of cocoa:

 

Liam looks thrilled beyond measure. Harry appears to be in shock that such a thing exists.

Now, on to the garden. Here is the before. Please to avoid looking at our redneck fencing. I’m hoping that will be replaced in the next year or so.

Much to be done in that plot. I spent an hour or two each day for about a week cleaning it up, turning the soil, and making it as hospitable as possible for all the seeds I was eagerly holding on to.

On paper it’s so neat and orderly. That means the reality will be a meticulous garden that practically weeds itself, right?

This weekend, Jesse built a trellis for our tomatoes and cucumbers, and a teepee for the peas to climb.

…or maybe that teepee was for kids to play in, I forget…

The first seeds went into the ground yesterday, with more planned about 2-3 weeks from now. The easy part is done. The hard part (the weeding, the constant upkeep, the harvesting before everything gets too big, the slug hunts) will be here before I know it.

first ride of the year

Today has been a beautiful spring day. Sadly, Harry and I laid low with bad colds. Jesse and Liam took advantage of the wonderful weather and our absence and took the motorcycle out for the first spin of the season. Here are a few photos from their grand day out.

taking a walk at the parc.

This is the "I'm cool" pose

enjoying an ice cream

enjoying the day

at the parc, with the pond and l'Orangerie in the distance.

They had a really nice time! Now, the two men are outside taking the lay of the land for my vegetable garden, Harry’s half-napping on the couch, and me? I’m sipping TheraFlu. Ahhh, the life.

heaven in a bowl

I made a new meal tonight. Or rather, I made a meal I haven’t made in about two years. We really enjoyed it the first time, as I recall. But somehow I never got around to making it again. This time I changed and simplified the recipe, so it would fit with our no-oil lifestyle. Oh, my goodness. Jesse literally said, multiple times, “This is the best thing you have EVER made!” I’m not quite sure that’s so, but it was absolutely delicious, and SO simple. It’s one of those meals that’s literally on the table in about ten minutes, but better than anything I’ve ever ordered in a restaurant. For the pleasure of your tastebuds:

Soba Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Snow Peas

ingredients:

  • 1 pack of shitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup of button mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of snow peas (I used a bag of frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 cups of vegetable broth

Pour 2 cups boiling water over the dried shitake and let them rehydrate, about five minutes. Place the vegetable broth in a medium saucepan, drain the mushroom soaking liquid into the saucepan too, so you save all the delicious broth. Rough chop the shitake.

Place all the mushrooms in a frying pan with about 1/4 cup of water, the soy sauce, and the giner. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are softened, about five minutes. If using fresh snow peas, add them to the pan as well. If frozen, nuke those babies according to package directions.

Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil, add your package of noodles and cook until al dente, just a few minutes. Add the vegetables to the saucepan of noodles, give it a toss to combine, and get it to the table pronto. I like a bit of spice so I added crushed red pepper to mine. Delicious and elegant!