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.  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 🙂

Harry being camera shy

trip to London

Cheerio! I’ve never actually heard anyone say that, but thought I’d throw it in all the same. We spent the last four days traveling to/in/around/back from London. It was a good trip, we saw some sites, and we had a good time as a family. That said, if we had it to do again, we’d stay home and do something local. It was insanely expensive, insanely crowded, and just too…. frantic for our tastes. Jesse and I have vowed to do day trips for the foreseeable future.

DAY ONE – TRAVELING TO LONDON

looking jaunty on the train to Bruxelles
killing time in Bruxelles, waiting for the Eurostar

DAY TWO – LEGOLAND

On the train to Legoland, Liam saw a sign that said “Help Station”, but the “P” was nearly faded out. “Dad,” he said, “are we in Hell?” Not yet, but soon Jesse would be. Amusement parks are, shall we say, not his happy place. But he held up well for the sake of his kids, and lasted hours before his eye started to twitch. We did four or five rides that day, saw Miniland – which truly was impressive, and waited in queues for what seemed like hours. I’ve been here once before, years ago, with my brother and his daughters. Not much has changed – I remember playing on the same playground with my nieces as I just did this weekend with my boys.

Harry driving at Legoland
Liam making friends with the locals
going up in a *balloon*
St. Paul’s Cathedral made out of Legos
the royal wedding party at Buckingham Palace in Legos
Blast off!

When we got back to London we relaxed in our hotel room for a while (read: until the kids started getting antsy and driving us nuts) and then ventured out for a walk along the riverfront. We then found an incredibly expensive place to eat our evening meal.

view across the Thames on an evening walk.

DAY THREE – THE LONDON EYE AND A BUS TOUR

The bus tour was, to be frank, a bit of a dud. It was long and drawn out, Harry had to pee, and both kids were bored after about fifteen minutes. We gave up on it after about two hours. The London Eye was a more enjoyable experience. Grossly overpriced, but what in the touristy part of any major city isn’t? We had some stunning views over the Thames.

going up in the London Eye.
Big Ben and Parliament as seen from the top of the London Eye.

And now we are home. I went out this morning to see how my garden had done in my absence. My swiss chard is reaching prehistoric proportions, the tomatoes are ripening quickly, and the summer squash and pumpkins are getting ready to take over the world. Seriously. I couldn’t find my pepper plants because in four days the squash and pumpkin had swallowed them up. When we left the squash were about 8 inches long. Now?

the squash are taking over.

That’s a huge knife. Too bad I’m the only person in the house really keen on squash and zucchini!

busy

The kids and I have been running ourselves ragged since summer started. Isn’t this supposed to be the time of the year when you relax and catch up on things?? Not for us, apparently. That’s mostly my doing. I’ve got Liam’s summer scheduled pretty tight with various *stages* in the area — kind of like a day camp.  I decided ensuring his French stayed at a high level – or even improved – over the summer was more important than us relaxing. He’s enjoying himself at the stages, no worries. Harry is enjoying the many bus rides he gets to take when we drop Liam off and pick him up. And I’m enjoying seeing my kids having fun and knowing that they’re not sitting around the house, complaining about how bored they are. So it’s definitely a good busy that is going on, but busy nonetheless.

Our promised boat trip keeps getting canceled for reasons beyond our control. The first week, the boat was canceled. The next, the boat was indeed sailing but they had sold all the tickets before we got there. I’ve finally booked online for a special all-afternoon excursion they’ll be having later in the summer. If that one doesn’t work, I give up.

Weather permitting, we might have something special on tap for this weekend, so check back soon! And now for a few rather poor pictures to tide you over:

playing together at the local parc

sitting on the steps of Saint Waudru, where we stop every day to play I Spy

or *I SMY* as Harry says it