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!

A few photo updates

We have had more snow in Belgium in the past month than I remember ever seeing here.  Some photographic evidence:

Rue de la Dreve

Our house.

Looking toward the main road.

The back field.

Believe it or not, this snowman was taller than Jesse.

And just as suddenly as it arrived, it disappeared.

Liam's gift to us from school. Note the green lawn and the remains of Frosty in the background.

The last couple weeks in far too few pictures.

Watcha doing Harry?

Watcha doing Harry?

Do it and you'll pay big time, little man!

Do it and you'll pay big time, little man!

J and I took in a classical music concert at a local chateau.

J and I took in a classical music concert at a local chateau.

Picnic by the pond, then concerts in the various gardens.

Picnic by the pond, then concerts in the various gardens.

Sunset over the chateau's pond.

Sunset over the chateau's pond.

Chateau lit up just as we were leaving.

Chateau lit up just as we were leaving.

Buzz Lightyear taking a well-deserved nap.

Buzz Lightyear taking a well-deserved nap.

Liam's losing his baby teeth one after the other.  Another one out yesterday.  Priceless, toothless grins.

Liam's losing his baby teeth one after the other. Another one out yesterday. Priceless, toothless grins.

The face behind the blog.

The face behind the blog.

miscellany

We’ve had some fun, busy days around here lately.  A recent trip to the local science museum yielded hours of fun.

Harry testing different materials to determine which are good conductors of heat... or maybe just banging pots and pans

Harry testing different materials to determine which are good conductors of heat... or maybe just banging pots and pans.

Liam testing what materials will conduct electricity.  His favorite?  Himself!

Liam testing what materials will conduct electricity. His favorite? Himself!

Liam rushed about, trying for a great time on the reflex wall...

Liam rushed about, trying for a great time on the reflex wall...

...while Harry was less impressed.

...while Harry was less impressed.

Parc Paradisio, one of our favorite haunts, is closing this weekend for the season.  So the kids and I made one final trip for the year.

After hours of internet research, I finally figured out what this is: a mara, from South America.  Or, as Jesse says, "big damn rat."

After hours of internet research, I finally figured out what this is: a mara, from South America. Or, as Jesse says, "big damn rat."

Lima in front of one of the old, giant maples.

Liam in front of one of the old, giant maples.

Liam could not bring himself to put his fingers in -- could you?

Liam could not bring himself to put his fingers in -- could you?

Jesse bid on and won a huge lot of Lego Bionicles for Liam, as these are his latest obsession.  The guys had a day and a half marathon session of assembling them all.  It was great fun for the whole family.  Now we are well protected!

Can you find a familiar face amongst the group?

Can you find a familiar face amongst the group?

catching up on the week

We’re having a rather quiet summer here, not much to report or blog home about.  Jesse’s course finished, and although it wasn’t tailored to him and his needs, he did get quite a lot out of it.  We’ve picked up some fabulous French workbooks and are plowing through them, each at our own pace.  I think by winter I’ll find a couple conversation groups, and we’ll each take an evening out with others to work on our French.

The boys are both doing well, although Harry seems to be hitting the *terrible* twos with a vengeance.  His favorite word is *no*, he has little patience, and gets extremely frustrated when not allowed to do what he wants.  All typical for the age.  We’ve tread this path before.  He’s also taken to getting up at the crack of dawn.  Sometimes earlier.  This makes for one very tired Mama.  As for Liam, it seems he’s changing more than anyone at the moment.  He’s tall and lanky, outgrowing all his long-legged pyjamas.  He’s starting to really read.  Not just two or three letter words, but really read.  We have some easy readers Gramma Bonnie gave him years ago, and he can read 90% of what is on the page.  Of course, the stories are familiar, so some words are coming more from context than actual print, but he’s definitely progressing very quickly.  And his Lego skills are out of this world.  Right now he’s working on his newest kit – a coast guard ship and lighthouse.  No assistance required.  I love these afternoons.  He’s completely engrossed in what he’s doing, following directions, and NOT telling me how bored he is!

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Safety first!  Harry loves to play on the motorcycle.  This time, he asked me for his *hemmet*, put it on his head, and climbed up on the bike.  “Broom!  Broom!” he says!

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Here’s Liam with one of his most recent creations — a rocket at take off!  In the first photo he’s demonstrating what’s going to happen at takeoff.

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Let’s call this one “boy in makeshift boat.”  Please ignore the pile of dirty laundry.  It had to go somewhere!

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And let’s call this one “equal time!”

why Jesse's eye is twitching right now

So, today the contractor came to install the new tub. Wanna see?

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Yeah. Apparently, the tub is the wrong dimensions for the area. We’re not sure how that happened, as we measured meticulously, and we took the measurements to the store with us when ordering the tub, AND the contractor was out and did a survey of the site, knowing what we were putting in. We have an appointment with the contractor and the store TUESDAY to ORDER a new tub that will fit.

Oh, one more thing. It’s almost July. The height of summer is still to come. And we’re going to be washing up in the sink for at least a few weeks would be my guess.

Yeah.

Twitching.

a grand day out

Yesterday we celebrated my upcoming birthday. Dinner and a movie? Nah. Something WAY better. The guys took me on a tour around Europe. We visited important buildings and monuments from Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Poland…. Yes, we were absolutely exhausted by the time we finally got home.

Okay, so we went to Mini Europe, but it was still a wonderful day. Mini Europe has incredibly real models of some of Europe’s most noteworthy sites — from Brussels’ Grand Place to London’s Big Ben, from Paris’ Eifel Tower to Greece’s Acropolis. And many, many others. Many we knew, many we didn’t. I’ll be reading up on my European history and important sites, and we’ll go back in a few months. It was a great day!

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First, we took the train to Brussels.

First class. That way it isn’t too crowded. Also, most other first class passengers go to other cars when they see we’ve got kids. Thatta boy, Harry!

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Yes, we are full of class.

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We did A LOT of this during the day! Everything was amazing.

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Jesse gets in touch with his Viking roots. I think he was born in the wrong century. Really. I can very easily see him as a marauding and pillaging Viking.

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Liam’s got to work on the scowl and the sneer.

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Look, kids. Big Ben, Parliament.

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Liam jumps for joy at being back in Paris, at his beloved Eifel Tower.

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Jesse told him he looked like a giant next to the Arc de Triomphe. Hence the pose.

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Keeping the Tower of Pisa from falling over.

More pics in another post to follow. It was a great day. We followed up with a trip to a great Italian restaurant — probably the best we’ve eaten at outside Italy — and a great train ride home. Thanks for the birthday present, guys. It was indeed a grand day out!

We're back home.

After a couple weeks in northern New York, we’re back home this weekend. The plane, train, and automobile trip was tolerable, but long. Too long for a 1.5 year old boy. At this point, we’re never flying again. I’ll refer back to this post when we think we might want to fly somewhere. Liam got to sit in the cockpit of the Boeing 777 we flew over to Brussels. The flight engineer was the only one left on the flight deck watching him. Liam promptly grabbed the yoke and had a go with it, end to end. I’m sure outside the aircraft, the ground crew was wondering why in hell the elevator was slamming from one end of its travel to the other while on the flight line. The flight engineer got Liam off of the controls. Liam liked it anyway.

I mowed the hay. Ironed clothes for work. Picked up the dog. Karena took care of unpacking, got groceries, got everything else in the house squared away.

It was good we had the weekend to recover.

It’s even better to be back home.

changing it up

Yet another blog theme. I think this one will be around for a while. The latest, whilst I liked it, was quite slow to load and Jesse detested it. Any feedback on this one? I realize there are some blank boxes in the sidebar. Be patient: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was this site.

Catching Up

So…ummmm… October 25th… yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been motivated to update the blog. The three people that still bother to check for updates know that we’re alive and well, but I’ll fill in a few blanks. Obviously I’ve updated the blog’s theme: let me know if you have any problems viewing anything. The links across the top aren’t updated yet. I decided I’d better put some content up first!


relaxing with Liam on the couch…

Harry — still not quite walking, although he could do it if he wanted to. I expect one of these days he’s going to realize his knees will stay much warmer if he walks, rather than crawls, across the tile floor. He’s got a few words — Dada, Mama, (ba)nana, sha-sha (that means “love you” in this house), ball, and do-ggggr (dog). He’s also using some signs to communicate with us — eat, more, please, thank you, milk, grapes, and hot. He’s such a great little guy with a wonderful personality. He absolutely loves watching Disney’s Fantasia — the Beethoven’s Pastorale is the cure for all ills in his little world. Other loves: cottage cheese, his big brother, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and all the ladies that flirt with him at Liam’s school.


by day, Fireman Harry. By night, carpenter-extraordinaire.

Liam — loving school, learning French with amazing speed. His teacher says he’s really catching on to the French. He loves playing with the other kids at school, although he has a soft heart that is bruised easily sometimes. If someone doesn’t want to play with him, he’s lost that friend forever. That kind of thing. The work seems to come quite easily to him, as of course we all know he’s a genius. He’s developed a real love of drawing and writing, and we’re of course trying to encourage that. Some of his spelling is quite inventive, but he gets his point across!


Liam is NOT tired…


testing…testing…

Me — ehh, same old, same old. I love my boys and my husband. And they drive me up the wall. All in the span of an hour, repeated 24 times a day. I’ve made some good friends with the moms of some of Liam’s classmates, and I’m amazed at how big of a difference a little female companionship can make.


Liam playing in the first real snowfall we’ve seen in some time.

Jesse — loves his job, loves his kids, loves his dog. Pretty sure he’s happy with me, too!


Harry setting the potatoes free. He was even hugging them…

Recently we’ve had a chain of problems around here. It seems that once they start, they never stop. First there was a slow coolant leak in the car. We took it in to the garage — turned out to be the head gasket. The car was in the garage for three days. On day two, we woke up to no heat and had to call an emergency repairman. A ten minute fix cost of $$$. Got the car back (more $$$$), and Jesse left a few days later for some training in the UK. The day he left we lost phone service. It took I believe around three hours of getting passed around and hung up on in three different languages before I finally got through to someone at the phone company that could help. A week later, we had a flat tire. Please please please let this be over!


Liam in the shirt he picked out on a special day out with me.

Jesse’s done with work for the remainder of 2008. We’ll spend the next week around the house, and we leave for the Riviera next Saturday!


Portrait of the artist as a young boy.


Harry the ever-drooling bandit.