Rue Grande is clean

It took me a couple weeks and a box of orange trash bags that I could only find in Canada, to clean up just over a kilometer of roadside. Those bags are 140 liter bags, and I filled twenty of them. Liam helped with the last six bags.

That stretch of road was a real eyesore on my bike ride to work. I don’t think it has ever been cleaned as well as we did it.

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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!

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!

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.

Carnaval!

It was a rather busy week at school for the boys. It was the week before the Carnaval vacation, so it was filled with special events and parties.

On Tuesday, each class put on a theatre presentation for the parents. Harry’s class did a skit about woodland elves. He is the elf (lutin) in a grey sweatshirt with a long green hat.

Liam’s class did a montage of big bad wolf stories. First they sang the song “Promenos-nous dans les bois”. Roughly translated, the lyrics are:

We go walking in the woods
While the wolf is not there.
If the wolf was there
He would eat us up!
But since he is not there
he will not eat us!

and so on…

The song was followed by Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. Liam was the smart pig that built a house of brick. He had lines, but sadly there was too much noise in the room for me to get it on video. Next time! He really enjoyed acting, surprisingly, and tells me he’d like to do it again when he has a chance. Who knew?

Thursday, Harry’s class went to an indoor play park for the day and had a grand time. On Friday, Liam’s class went to a local indoor mini-golf establishment. He now believes golf to be the greatest sport on the planet and insists we go as a family tomorrow πŸ™‚ Both boys had dress up parties at school on Friday as well. Liam’s class is studying pirates, so all the kids dressed up as pirates. Harry’s class dressed up as clowns. But since Liam was re-enacting a pirate scene for the photos, Harry decided to be THE pirate clown. I guess even pirates need comic relief.

a day on the canal

Ahhh, ’twas to be a magical day. Liam had requested, as an end of school year celebration, a trip to one of the boatlifts on one of the many canals in our region. But every time we would arrive, there would be something standing in our way. The first time, the boat had been cancelled and we’d have to stand around for a couple hours waiting for the next one. With two kids with attention spans of…. two kids? Not likely. The next time,the boat was running but all places had been sold. Again, we could wait around for a couple hours. I think not.

We should have taken this as a sign.

But no, I wanted to give Liam what he had requested. They have special events on the canals, about once a month, in which you can travel by boat up and down the canal for a special, all-afternoon excursion. Up some locks, down others. Beautiful scenery, interesting architecture and mechanics – it was supposed to be a fantastic day out!

Except that it rained. And five hours, sitting inside a barge whose windows are too high for the kids to see out of? Just didn’t have the same magical appeal. Within 30 minutes Harry was asking to go home. Liam spent most of the time sighing and/or playing Angry Birds on Jesse’s phone.

Liam at the beginning of our trip

Harry in the beginning

15 minutes in

Jesse looking earnest... and grey

I think this photo sums up how we were ALL feeling after about an hour

after about an hour, Dad came through and made the day bearable

It was an interesting thing to do. I would do it again, if I could be guaranteed good weather so I could sit out and enjoy the weather and the scenery, and really see what was happening when we went through the locks. I would also hire a sitter πŸ™‚

it stopped raining about fifteen minutes before the end of the tour

Archeosite

As per my usual, I’ve fallen behind on updating the blog. Expect a few rapid-fire posts to hit the internets today.

On August 7th we went to Archeosite, an open-air, living museum that aims to recreate prehistoric, proto-historic, and Gallo-Roman life in this region. I should have had my camera out taking far more pictures. Instead I was too busy enjoying myself, chasing after kids, and trying to read signs when the kids were standing still. Next year I think we’ll get a membership to this site and go often – it was really informative and fun, and just a nice day out in nature with the family.

 

 

the approach to the Gallo-Roman villa

Harry spent every free minute discoursing with the fishies

grape vines surrounding the gardens at the villa

inside the villa

Jesse was enthralled with these shoes on one of the period-actors

J explaining one of the artisans crafts to Liam

Like I said, not nearly enough photos to do the day or the site justice. There was a nice walk through the woods around a small lake, a small village setup, farms, authentic early houses… I can’t wait to go back!

 

 

Scientastic!

Today the kids and I ventured out to Bruxelles on our own to take in a children’s science museum named Scientastic. I tend to avoid big outings like this during the week – not because I can’t do it alone, but because it’s so much easier to take on the city when you’ve got a second adult on hand. But the kids are getting older, I’m feeling more and more confident in my train/metro skills, and I have an iPhone, whose mapping skills completely make up for my total lack of direction. Β Also, after spending last weekend in London, Bruxelles seems small town!

The museum is underground, in a wing of a metro station. It’s small but well laid out, and the kids had a blast. Lots of optical illusion type things, everything very hands on, and great for all ages. I wish I had more pictures to show you, but I was too busy chasing after Harry and helping him try things out to haul out the camera.

my one shot inside the museum

candy shop as we walked from the museum toward the Grand Place. thankfully the boys were oblivious.

street opening up on the Grand Place

Bruxelles Grand Place

 

another view

and another πŸ™‚

Harry being camera shy