Christmas In Wasseiges & Evening In Liège

First of all – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes to all no matter what you celebrate and believe in. May you be blessed with the love of family and friends all year round!

I slept in this morning. I didn’t realize I was so tired. I’m not really sure why either. Turns out I didn’t need to get up as early as I planned, but still. I attended mass today with Adeline and Bastien. Greg stayed home with Sylvain, you know, with him being sick and loving to wander around and all. Bastien played a shepherd! Too cute. And he had his little stuffed dog up there with him. It was my first time stepping foot inside the church I’ve lived next to this past year. It was at 10:30, so not too early. I was actually awakened by the sound of phone beeping telling me I had received a text. It was Greet saying Merry Christmas and sorry we couldn’t get together. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, Greet was an exchange student with a family we know in New Dundee before Jean came to live with us. She lives in Antwerp. My parents visited her this summer. That’s one place in Belgium they’ve been that I haven’t!

After mass we came home and opened the rest of the Christmas gifts. I got Bastien a collection of Grimm brother’s Fair Tales (illustrated). He was a little put out, said it was a book for big kids because there were no pictures (or something like that). Adeline showed him the pictures. It may in fact be a little old for him, but he can grow into it and it’s actually a really nice book, it has a ribbon bookmark and everything! Sylvain got a book as well. His is really short (only 5 or 6 pages) with only a couple of lines per page. It also has a teddy head that when you push its nose it lights up and plays ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Only thing is it plays the music quite loud. Greg made a valid point when he commented how all music in books and things designed to make kids go to sleep is always really loud with no way of changing the volume. For Greg and Adeline I got an egg separator (yolks from whites) and salt and pepper mills (their other ones broke…they still work, they just don’t look as nice anymore).

I also got a box of assorted Neuhaus chocolates from Sybille. She originally gave a box to me Friday night, but then accidentally took it and opened it for us. There was some confusion with the multiple chocolate boxes. She was a little upset that she gave me one and then took it away so today she dropped one off. I’m excited to dig in. Unfortunately for my family I won’t be bringing them home. There’s no room in the inn…er…suitcase! I’m being serious though, it’s a relatively heavy box and I don’t have any room to spare. So I’m going to share them with Greg, Adeline, Jean-Go, and Val Ou tomorrow.

I continued to organize my ‘life’. I folded all of my clothes and reorganized where I’m placing certain things. I won’t really know where I stand as far as space goes until I get my clothes all vacuum sealed and ready to go. Then I’ll be able to figure out the rest. My pjs will just go on top. I think I’ll do that first tomorrow and then go make sure the car is clean…on the inside at least. I had planned to go last week and wash it, but that was my Thursday or Friday trip and with the boys being sick it didn’t happen. I might still go tomorrow and check it out. As far as feeling like I have enough room and not, it goes back and forth a lot. Sometimes I’m ok, sometimes I’m freaking out. I guess I’ll just take care of things as they happen. I can’t believe it’s only 2 sleeps away!

I decided on a whim to call my family today to wish them a Merry Christmas. I managed to talk to both my parents and Lisa before my phone ran out of credit. I knew that would happen, but I don’t need it anymore so I feel it was a good phone call to make. Everyone had just woken up from not so good sleeps so they all sounded groggy and tired. I felt bad. It was around 9:15am in Canada when I called. Not too early, but still a little bit. And I guess we’re not having a Brenneman family get together on the 28th. Mom said she emailed me, but I didn’t see it….

After naps we went to Liège. This was originally planned for tomorrow as something for my last day in Belgium, but I’m glad we went tonight. I think I’m going to be a bit of a mess tomorrow. If my mental state the days before and on the day I left Canada are anything to go by I might go a little crazy with nerves. I’m just like that. I still have to make my declaration list! Actually, I don’t think I technically need one, but I want to make one so that if they decide to question me I have all that information right there and don’t need to try to remember of f the top of my head. Apparently if I would be leaving a day later I would be considered to have been gone an official year and could claim things differently. The tax-free amount stays the same, but anything that I’ve bought and used for at least 6 months would not need to be claimed….and there’s some other stuff about that too, like personal household items or something. But in order to qualify for the year thing I would need to come home the 28th. Dec. 28th-Dec. 28th. Oh well. Too late now. 😛

Anyway, Liège. It was dark by the time we got there, but that made enjoying all the Christmas lights even better. We walked around the Christmas market for a while, all the booths are made to look like little wooden huts all decorated up for Christmas, so magical. Just like the Christmas Market I walked through in London (pictures can be viewed on my FB page). We stopped to get some baked goods. Bastien got a waffle and I got another pastry with sugar clumps and raisins that in Liège is called a bonhomme, but Adeline knew it by a different name. Greg got a speculoos flavoured square. I also saw the Palace of the Prince-Bishops. We also went for a ride on the Ferris wheel which provided a really neat view with all the Christmas lights.

I finally tried Peket! It usually comes in a little shot glass, but where we got them they were a bit bigger than that. I got strawberry flavoured, Greg raspberry, and Adeline lemon. I think I actually preferred the lemon. Adeline said I could not come to Liège and not try some. I think this was my 3rd opportunity so I had to take it. 20% alcohol and I had to down my second half of it…I’m a slow drinker. I didn’t have to down it, but everyone else was finished. Bastien had even finished his juice box! We also had some hot wine which wasn’t bad. I prefer hot apple cider myself, but apart from the slight burn (from the alcohol, not the temperature) it felt good going down.

We also came across a Canada booth from Quebec! I was the first to spot it…and the last to walk by it :P. So we stopped and took pictures. We talked to the people running the booth, told them I was Canadian, you know, the usual stuff. The one women had a headband with Canadian flags sticking up out of them and she let me borrow it for a couple of pictures. We also bought cheese curds and gravy mix to make poutine!!! I don’t know if we’ll do that tomorrow or not. It’s not like I can get some when I get home :P. And they had real maple syrup there and other maple products and everything! For those who don’t know, the slogan on Ontario license plates is YOURS TO DISCOVER. What I didn’t know – but found out tonight – is that for Quebec it’s LA BELLE PROVINCE (or ‘the beautiful province’). I haven’t seen enough of Quebec to confirm or contradict that statement, but I can believe it. I just thought it was so funny to come across that tonight. Awesomeness!

Then we went for supper and of course I had the Liège meatballs. They came with your choice of potato (yeah, went with fries) and a tiny little salad. They weren’t bad I just found them to be sort of bland. Maybe that was my taste buds playing with my mind or maybe they just weren’t the best meatballs. You can’t have amazing food every time you go out :D. Sylvain was – as usual, especially these days – quite entertaining, but a bit on the hard to handle side. Grabbing everything, ripping up the paper place mat….and Bastien was his usual not-wanting-to-eat self. I sat beside him and he was actually (at least at first) happy about that. He did give me a big hug and told me he loved me. And as a way to distract/calm him down before the food arrived I read to him the story he had brought (Disney’s The Fox and the Hound or Rox et Rouky).

We ended up misplacing Sylvain’s soother somewhere so he didn’t have it in the car on the way home. I think he was tired of being stuck sitting down (he had been in a stroller most of the time, only getting out to ride the merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, and walk around a little), and just tired so he cried until we were a little over 10 minutes from home and then he fell asleep. He seemed to be in a good mood after waking up though. He cried at first, but by the time his shoes were off and his coat and stuff put away, he gave me a kiss* and a wave goodnight with a smile on his face. *His version of kisses are sometimes just resting his head or his cheek against you. New Sylvain update! He’s starting to get the head nodding and shaking down. It’s so cute to see him respond yes or no to a question. Because of course up until now I’m just used to talking to him and not expecting any kind of real answer. I know I talk about Sylvain a lot, more than Bastien, and it’s not because I like him more, it’s just that at his age he does a lot more growing in a shorter period of time. So things are always changing.

Back up to Christmas stuff – in his stocking Bastien got a collection of plastic pirates with a little treasure chest, pirate skeleton, and cannon. Sylvain got a bath toy, but also another gift – a castle complete with knights, a king/prince, a princess, and other figures. At one point today Bastien said he killed the prince and princess with his canon – I said that wasn’t nice and I don’t like mean pirates and I think he said (I forget, not because I didn’t understand) they’re not really dead, it’s just a joke. I am so going to miss the crazy antics of these boys. I’m also going to miss evening TV time with Greg and Adeline – our reactions to things that happen and such. And also the fact that Adeline – or I – will break out into random song – usually because the lyrics have something to do with something someone just said – and I’ll join in. Sometimes in unison, sometimes in parts, but either way it’s really fun and I’m going to miss that.

And oh my goodness it’s almost 2am!! Approximately 40 or so hours until I’m in Toronto! BAH!!!!

                                                                                                                        

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Christmas Eve And A Little Taste Of Home

This morning we were all up and about shortly after 10. Well, the others were up a bit before that. I had to go to the Commune to get a sheet stating that I’m returning home. After that I came back and helped Greg clean up the kitchen before occupying (or trying to) Sylvain while Greg and Adeline vacuumed and mopped the main floor. It kind of needs it more often because the cat drags mud in everywhere!

Eventually they asked me to go the bakery to pick up the cake they had ordered while they finished up at the house. It was a pretty happening place! Pretty sure it was my last trip there. Finally I made my way home, cake in hand, and arrived at the same time as Greg’s family. Talk about timing! After saying all the hellos and such Jean-Phillip (Greg’s brother and Bastien’s godfather) gave Bastien his St. Nicolas gift he hadn’t had a chance to give to him yet. It was a fishing game. You set up 4 pieces of wood to make a square sort of well type thing and inside you toss the pieces (frogs, fish, and starfish). All are magnetized and so are the rods. Then you go fishing. Bastien had a lot of fun with it.

After starting the champagne and chips, veggies, and other appetizer items we had our hands full preventing Sylvain from taking a handful of chips and getting them all over the floor. Eventually he grabbed a mini cucumber and Adeline set him on the couch where he sat fairly quietly eating. Then we started with gifts. Bastien would go grab one and whoever got the gift would tell him who it was for.

My first big surprise was a gift from Adeline and Greg. I could tell it was some sort of book and made a guess of another recipe book. Not quite. It’s a book that they put together of my pictures from arrive until the end of November. Since I gave Adeline all my pictures there are two whole pages in the back of pictures of me when I was fooling around with hats and hair and self-taken picture camera angles. Not to mention silly faces. Embarrassing pictures, not intended for anyone to see :P. I happened to open to the back accidentally when I first opened it and saw those and made a sort of ‘oh no’ gasping sound. Adeline and Greg started laughing because they knew exactly what I had seen. It’s such an amazing gift. I actually cried a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever cried from receiving a gift before. So thoughtful and creative. It sure makes it easy to share my year with people! Of course there are no pictures from December, but she left a bit of blank space. I’ll have to print out and cut and paste a few in there. There’s even two pages of the boys with the tag line: kids grow up so fast (something like that) and the pictures start with Sylvain back when I got her and show the progression of the boys this year. It’s amazing to see the difference! And there are pages separated into the places I went, and even separate pages for food and drinks. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

My year in pictures! What an amazing, thoughtful gift. ^_^

My next gift was just as surprising and no less meaningful. I didn’t know what it was at first because it was in a gift bag. Once I got that open I saw the inside and I knew – my Christmas Eve pjs! Let me back track a bit. Every Christmas Eve we have dinner with my Dad’s family. And every year from as far back as I can remember – and even farther – my Grandma has made pyjamas for all the grand-kids. The styles varied when we were younger. I remember seeing pictures of one year Lisa and I in long nightgowns with cute little, frilly sleeping caps. I think the pattern was little grey mice on white. And on the front of the nightgowns were our initials in glow-in-the-dark stuff (I don’t know what it was or what to call it). We looked so cute! Some years they were one piece, but mostly they were your average pants and button down top. In these last 5-7 years or so she’s just been making the pants and buying t-shirts that match the main colour of the pants because the pants we would all wear year round, but the tops hardly ever (I know Lisa and I really only wore them around Christmas just after getting them and then we’d just wear t-shirts anyway) so they looked new and the pants were worn. This makes sense and it’s also less work for my Grandma. I think one year a while ago she had considered stopping, but we made a bit of an uproar at that. And it’s not just my sister and I, but Josh and Aaron as well. And I’m sure Nicole and Ryan love them as much as we do. I did send an email yesterday saying that as much as we love them when Grandma needs to stop she’s not to feel like she has to keep making them just to please us. We can’t be that selfish.

My pjs! My two pairs here with me are green and the first thing Adeline said was 'they're not green!'. As you can see I hadn't even taken off the size sticker yet :P.

That’s not the only part of the tradition. Sometimes it changes, but the mostly we open the stockings (all homemade my Grandma) before supper. Then we eat and once things are all cleaned up and the extra table put away we all settle into the living room by the tree. Someone gets appointed to hand out gifts and they start with the pjs. Those are obvious to spot because a few years ago Grandma made these cloth bags with Velcro and our names sewn on them to put the pjs in. Such a ‘green’ idea (they’re actually green :P)! We wait until all of us ‘kids’ (the youngest is 20 now I think…I’m the oldest) have our packages and then we run off to find a place to change. Once we’ve all changed and are back in the living room we gather for a picture. Then we let the paparazzi do their thing and we just smile and look pretty. Josh and Aaron usually like to make a fuss. I’m not sure if they actually don’t like it or if they just like to liven things up a little.  Then we get down to business exchanging the other gifts. In the past couple of years we’ve decided – now that we’re all older – to do a Secret Santa type gift exchange. So at Thanksgiving we all write a few items on pieces of paper (lately they’ve been pre-prepared by Grandma with names and price limit and stuff – so organized!), put them in a container and do a draw. The funniest part is that we all know it’s coming, but we all forget so no one ever knows what to write and we spend a lot of time humming and hawing. It’s kind of funny actually. Another constant is socks. We always get socks from Grandma in another of her cloth, labelled bags. And usually some sort of homemade household item. Like the gifts Mom brought for Adeline, Sybille, and the others. The dish carriers. There’s a round one (with a drawstring and handles) and a rectangle one that has Velcro flaps and handles as well. Perfect for carrying hot dishes, but would work with cold too. They are of course labelled with name and date. I’ve got a lot of lovely mats to put under hot dishes and all kinds of other things (including a cloth checker board). My Grandma loves to sew and he family reap all the benefits. Thanks Grandma!

And here is my 'green' pj bag. You can sort of see my name on the bottom there. She actually did the same thing with Halloween - she made a little drawstring bag with a carved pumpkin face and our names to put candy in. Of course we always had to give them back afterwards!

 

So I opened up the pjs, but I didn’t put them on right away. That would have been just a tad awkward. That was oddity #1 in regard to the C.E. pjs. Oddity #2 was the fact that it was still daylight when I opened them. I emailed my Dad a few pictures so he could show Grandma and the family with his Blackberry. I guess my Mom had brought the pjs with her this summer. Way to go Grandma being so ahead of the game! I am so well-loved by my family. ^_^

As far as the boys’ routines with naps and such everything was thrown out of whack today and they were super tired. They were actually fed and in bed before 7. Woah. I do know that Bastien enjoyed himself. I did too. It was a good day. I’ve enjoyed all the family gatherings. I forgot to mention that Sylvain has a fascination with cleaning supplies and accessories. He would just stand there and watch Greg vacuum (sometimes tripping over the cord, sometimes being in the way). Then he did the same when Adeline mopped. Then again I guess he’s never really been home and awake when cleaning has taken place so it would be sort of new to him. And he does like to observe things. A lot.

Being away from the usual family traditions makes me realize even more how much I miss them, but also just what is all actually tradition and we just don’t think of it that way. What are some of your family traditions that you would miss if you went away?

 

                                                                                                                        

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A Very Musical Christmas

First I need to mention something that happened at the end of the night so I don’t forget. We’re almost home. In the car is Adeline, me, and the boys. Bastien is sleeping, but because he’s in just a booster seat he’s fallen across into the middle (instead of sleeping against the door). Sylvain…is not asleep. When  we finally get home Adeline notices a soother in his mouth and one in his lap. So he either dropped his or took it out on purpose and grabbed Bastien’s from him mouth and started using it. Crazy kid!

Speaking of Sylvain, he had a rough day. I’ve never heard him cry so much. He did have some really good moments though and I was able to catch some on film. I got some pics of them in my suitcase. They both fit! I had most of my clothes in my vacuum seal bag before dumping them all out because I wanted to sort through them and re-fold everything. I’ve decided to do some purging. You know how they say that if you haven’t worn something in a year to get rid of it because you won’t wear it? Well, I’m doing some of that. I brought with me 3 pairs of jeans. 1 I never wear and might have only worn once while here simply because I was short on pants that day. Donate! My other 2 pairs are too worn in places for me to wear. Now, between my Grandmothers we could patch these up and fix them, but I’m not going to for 3 reasons: 1) I bought them both for $15 2) my suitcases aren’t getting any bigger and my spacial reckoning/visualization is horrible = I think I have more stuff than room and 3) they’re too big. I was constantly pulling them up. And since they’re those handy (but somewhat impractical) pull-up, stretchy types there are no belt loops. My Mom brought a new pair for me this summer. I wear them now, although by all accounts they shouldn’t fit because they’re way smaller than the other ones. It’s all because of the stretch. 😛 So I’m throwing those 2 pairs out. The pair of dress pants I brought (that I wore once) are way too big and look much to sloppy to be dressy…donate! There are a few other items that I’m going to donate that I didn’t pay that much for so I don’t feel anxious about it. Also, since all of my slippers I brought (including the 2 pairs Grandma Roth made me) are all ripped and are kind of useless so they’re being tossed. I’m doing everything I can to create space. I’m not sure if it’s going to work. Which means I might have to mail stuff after all. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a little. I’ll get back to you on that.

So tonight we went to Sybille’s for Christmas. It was a small affair in comparison to the other Christmases we’ve had. All the kids are sick. Actually, I think it was the girls who gave the boys their coughs ;). And of course there was champagne! It will be strange going to a family gathering and not having a bit of bubbly. After the appetizers (I had one with mushrooms, ham, and a creamy cheese with a garnish, the name of which I don’t know in English and can’t spell in French) we opened presents. I was sort of expecting one from Jean because he asked me if I had replaced my straightener yet (did I mention in broke? That’s another I might as well leave behind since it doesn’t work). I did, in fact, get a straightener. It has a rolling barrel and is a wide one which will take a little getting used to because my old one was very thin. It says it’s a 5-1 on the box – it can straighten, volumize, curl, shape the tips, and add softness and shine (it has removable combs). This is really good advertising, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with straighteners. You can do all these things with any straightener if you know or develop the techniques. But certain things work better with some than others and I already tried this one out and it can curl just like a curling iron! Plus it straightens really well too. You can change the direction the barrel rotates too. The first time I used it I startled myself – the rotating barrel makes a noise. If you put it in the centre it doesn’t rotate and therefore doesn’t make noise, but from what I’ve found you get a better result if it rotates. For Jean I got a cook book. Not just any cook book mind you, but one with around 300 recipes from around the world. He liked it a lot. I’m glad. I’m horrible and choosing gifts for people.

From Aurore and Jeff (an unexpected gift) I also got a cook book. A Belgian cook book. It has a Waterzooi recipe in it (handy!) that uses shrimp (which I don’t like), but I can always just substitute it with craw-fish. It also has the chicken version. It has everything from drinks to desserts. It serves 3 purposes – gives me even more of a reason to cook, will help me share my time in Belgium with others through food, and is in French so will help me keep up with it. I’ll definitely have to carefully read through each recipe I undertake before I even think about starting it. Another unexpected gift came from Charles. It’s an easy arrangement piano book of 12 hit songs from Adele. I was so excited! I always love getting new music (I won’t lie and say I was getting a bit tired of playing the stuff from the books I have with me) and it will be fun to learn these songs. Unfortunately I forgot Freddy, so no picture with Charles. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Bastien, among other things, got a Spiderman costume, complete with muscles. Hilariously adorable. Him and Clémence each got a light up globe and were both shown where Belgium is and where Canada is. Jean was fiddling around on the piano and Maëline started dancing. Jean then started playing – oh my goodness…I should know this, but I can’t remember what it was! – something snappy and she continued dancing. Of course everyone got out their cameras and started filming. We also took a group photo. Well, many. The first set Charles didn’t quite make it in time, but it took maybe almost 10 before it stopped. So we all did a slightly different pose for each flash. That was started by Charles who was sort of half on the ground doing model poses. The second set was a little more serious, but with no fewer smiles.

Dinner was about as different from a Brenneman and Roth traditional Christmas dinner as you can get. There was salad – not too different – but then there was salmon (fresh, but not cooked) and lobster…from Nova Scotia! I had some lobster – Dad, Lisa, you would be proud. There was also Foie Gras (and faux gras, but that was on one of the appetizers) which I of course did not partake in. Dessert was a vanilla log cake with chocolate icing and a raspberry log cake. After eating we all (well almost all) participated in a little show. This year it was a little more planned, but I guess normally it’s more random. Everyone in the family is really musical and sang in choirs growing up so they’ll break out in 4-part harmony around the dinner table. I got to participate but realized that I sing very quietly. At least when I’m not totally confidant in what I’m singing. And with choir stuff, well in university I wasn’t the loudest and there was always way too many loud sopranos so I always sang softly (I also don’t overtax my voice that way) and I was doing that tonight. Problem was I was the only one on my part! Aurore joined me for the 2nd time. I know the song, but I still messed it up. We sang ‘I Will Follow Him’ from Sister Act. They had me sing the wailing solo part of that red-headed almost nun. Yeah, didn’t work too well. I don’t sing gospel. Not that I don’t love it and wish I could, but it’s just not where my talents lie. I might sing like that (or try to) and try different things, different styles when I’m alone (or in the shower because everything sounds better in there – it’s the steam and the acoustics), but not for other people. So I tried and warmed up to it a bit, but it was still borderline horrible. 😀 Everyone else sounded awesome though!

Sybille also bought – as a family gift – a sort of piano carpet. Basically think of a smaller (and fold-able) version of that huge keyboard on the floor in that mall in that Tom Hanks movie that was from the 80s or 90s (:P). Jean-Go, Charles, and Adeline played a version of that duet that everybody knows how to play (there are so many variations), but not many people actually know what it’s called (like me). It was hilarious! I have it on video. Greg says it should go on YouTube. They did it a second time and Greg filmed it so I don’t know if he’s going to put it up or not. I’m going to let them copy my pictures and videos so they can put it up later if they want. They did a great job and were very entertaining.

This was actually the last night I’m going to see all of them minus Jean and Val Ou. Jean’s coming with us to the airport on Tuesday and since we’re leaving at 6am he’s going to stay over Monday night so Valerie’s going to come over as well. And this time the boys are coming. Adeline was insistent. I’m glad. She said they didn’t come pick me up because they didn’t know me, but they’ll want to say goodbye (not to mention I’ll want to!). I feel like this post has actually been very vague and yet it’s over 1700 words…

I’m almost positive there was something else I wanted to say but we all know that I’ve forgotten it by now. Well, since it’s almost 2:30am it is now Christmas Eve day for me. For all you back home we’ll be sharing something in common that doesn’t make me happy – a green Christmas. I’m ok with that here because it’s normal, I just wanted snow for when I got home ;).

                                                                                                                        

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2 Down, 3 To Go

So today was #2 of 5 Christmas gatherings I will be participating in. The next is Christmas Day here. Than it’s Christmas with my parents, sister, and sister’s boyfriend, and finally Christmas with the Roth family on January 1. I know that the 28th the Brenneman side is coming over for supper, but I think that’s more of a welcome back gathering instead of Christmas.

I had planned to get up around 9 to eat breakfast with everybody and make sure that things were ready to go when we had to leave. Well, at 9 Adeline’s aunt showed up to help us finish clearing stuff away. So before noon we had all the tables and chairs folded (and table cloths obviously, as well as the decorations on the tables cleared off), the rest of the dishes rinsed and put in their respective buckets/trays, and the main floor vacuumed and mopped. Whew. Then it was off to Adeline’s aunt’s (Sybille’s sister) house for the Duchateau Christmas. This wasn’t as overwhelming because there weren’t as many people for one, and secondly I’d seen everyone there at least once before. I ended up sitting at a table with Adeline’s cousin Coralie and her husband. They’re the one’s that got married in May. I guess the read my blog post on the wedding and thought it was neat to see their wedding from a Canadian point of view!

Greg didn’t come because he wasn’t feeling well, but we took his car. His new car he got in August. His new car that has power seats (this I discovered when trying to straighten the back and move the seat forward) and a built-in GPS. It’s a nice car. There’s lots of room; enough that the boys can’t touch the back of the front seats with their feet!

Of course all the kids we all over the chips before lunch and left the veggies alone. Sylvain made a grab for a carrot, but I stopped him. I took one and let him take a bite. This resulted in a lot of drool. Plus he only has front teeth so after he bit off his morsel it would have been challenging to chew the rest. Hence the drool. Then he moved on to the chip/cracker type snacks. There was one kind that had processed cheese inside, those were easy for him to eat. Of course he would try to take more than one at a time or he’d put his hand in the dish and move it around. He took one of the other snack items (I don’t actually know what it was), but he wasn’t having much luck with it. This one was as easy to chew. It wasn’t going anywhere, it just caused him to drool even more all down his shirt. So I took it out of his mouth and threw it out. Then we took him upstairs for his nap and what do I find in his mouth? Yes, another one of the hard to chew morsels. This time he managed to get somewhere with it and by the time he was all ready to go down it was gone. At one point (before all this excitement) I was sitting on the one end of the couch and Sylvain was just doing what he does best; walking around and looking at everything and everyone. Then he started coming in my direction and once he noticed me he picked up the pace a bit and grabbed my hand. He held on to it for a while. This was shortly after we got there, so maybe he was a little overwhelmed with all the people and I was someone familiar and safe. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that to make me feel special. It does make sense though, I do live and spend a lot of time with him.

Shortly after that he became very independent. I have to get all the hugs and kisses I can out of him and Bastien before I leave! I told that to Bastien when he wouldn’t give me a hug. Then he gave me a hug. 😀 This family gather also included a gift exchange. Adeline’s aunt didn’t know I was still going to be here so I wasn’t included (I think that’s what happened), but that’s ok. So I wasn’t expecting anything. But her aunt gave me a really nice picture frame. The glass is on a mini easel type thing so with a picture in there it mimics a painting. I really like it. She didn’t have to get me anything, but it was definitely very nice of her. Everybody in this family and the other have all been so welcoming. Adeline said tonight that one thing about the huge De Coster family is that if you find yourself alone in a corner or something you have to go and find someone to talk to. If you don’t, you’ll stay alone. This isn’t because they’re not nice, it’s because with so many people it’s impossible to tell who is socializing and who isn’t. Who may be moping in a corner and who is the life of the party. So if you’re moping you’ll stay that way unless you do something about it. I wasn’t moping yesterday, and I didn’t feel shunned, she just made that comment as a matter of fact. It makes total sense.

I also tried something new today. Cheese. Ha, ha, not just any cheese. A really strong cheese. A very strong cheese. I don’t actually know how to spell the name, but I’m going to do it phonetically, at least phonetically the way I heard it: Rochfort. In French fort is strong. I tried the tiniest bit and it definitely tops my list of things I never want to eat again. Coming in 2nd is French onion soup, but that’s another story. I don’t really know how to describe this cheese. I think I’ve tried my best to block the taste from my memory. But now I can say I’ve tried it. Valerie told me that a lot of people buy this cheese at the beginning of winter as a natural defence for their immune system. I think she said it has some penicillin type elements or something. I don’t think I was paying very close attention; I was still trying to get the taste out of my mouth! But there you have it. It’s all what you’re used to, what you’ve grown up with. Which is why what Adeline tells Bastien at every meal (you can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it) is very sound advice. And just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s bad or disgusting. It’s just different. I can emphatically say that I do not like it and will never willingly (or unwillingly if I can help it) eat it again, but I will do my best to not say bad things about it other than that I don’t like it. This is something I’ve always tried to do and realize, but it has become more important to me since spending the year here to make sure I’m as diplomatic as possible when comparing or dealing with cultural differences. When it comes to food or other cultural stuff, there’s no right or wrong, good or bad, there’s just differences. What you’re used to and what’s new. I think any culturally new experience (or any new experience for that matter) will be more enjoyable if everyone were to keep that in mind. I guess this can be a little tricky when religion plays a very important role in culture. Hmmm. Well for the most part it works. Moving on…

I think the kids all had fun with the gifts. They especially liked little cousin Juliet’s one present. Especially Bastien, Clémence, and Sylvain. Especially Sylvain. You put a little ball in a whole in the top and it slides down coloured planks and goes through holes to go down either side of the main board before ending by ringing a little bell at the bottom. Neither boy had much of a nap. They slept for a little bit (maybe 20 minutes) in the car (it was an hour ride), but not at the house at all. They slept for about half, maybe a little more, of the ride home, and both were ready for bed when we arrived. When Sylvain gets really tired he’ll cry at anything. He’ll fall on his bum, or knees, and he cries like he just cracked his skull open. Or something else really minor. It’s not hard to handle though because the solution is simple; give him his bottle and put him to bed. Being tired and hungry are relatively easy for us to fix. Once he had his bottle he hardly made a peep. Putting him down is simple as well. He might spend a while talking to himself, but he rarely ever cries when you leave. Unless it’s the morning and he wants out of his crib. Then if I come into his room, but have to leave again to get him some clothes he’s not happy. I’m spoiled. If I ever have kids I won’t be surprised if they’re not as easy-going as Sylvain.

Tonight I put all the chairs back on their cart type contraption (which we actually used as a coat rack because the delivery guy forgot it because to get it out-of-the-way Jean put it in the coat room…or maybe it was left on purpose so we could put the chairs away :P), and gathered all the buckets of plates in the toy room with the tables and chairs. After getting Sylvain in bed (Greg was reading Bastien his nightly story) Adeline helped me transfer the cups and glasses and the cutlery. Now when mister delivery guy comes tomorrow everything is all right there and should be easy to load up. Hopefully he comes in the morning like he said he would. I have a lot of stuff to do this week and not all of it is at the house. 😛 My current To Do List is at 13 items and possible counting. And it really is all stuff I have to do this week while I have free time. It has to be done before I leave and I don’t know how much time I’ll have this weekend! #1 on my list: To bed!

                                                                                                                        

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I Used To Think I Had A Big Family….

Now I know better. When you have 6 kids, 28 grand kids, and 12 great-grand kids, you have a big family. And that’s not even including boyfriends/girlfriends, fiancées, and husbands/wives.  My Grandma Roth has 5 kids, 9 grand kids, and 2 great-grand kids. My Mom had a great idea getting a table made that can seat 22 – but with spouses, significant others, and now grand kids that isn’t enough space. For tonight they rented 4 tables, a crap-load of chairs, plates, cups, glasses (bubbles, water, wine), and cutlery. As far as I understand the rental place actually washes them because all we did tonight was rinse them and put them back in their buckets. We just have to rinse the glasses tomorrow. And fold the tables and chairs. Most of the clean-up (minus the house itself) is done. It’s almost 1am.

Bastien didn’t actually go to bed until just after midnight. He was really well-behaved tonight. He had kids to play with! I read him two stories. I rotated with Adeline and Jean’s cousin Marie and some others to watch them upstairs. Sylvain was really good too. He didn’t even get cranky when he did have his bottle till almost, or just after, 8. Normally by 6:30 he’s ready for it. Maybe it was the late hour he had his snack (almost 5, normally he eats it around 3:30-4) combined with all the people to interact and play with. Actually, all the babies were pretty good. Bastien even buttoned up his pyjama shirt ALL BY HIMSELF! Woah. He also undid the buttons on his vest alone. I had to undo his shirt because those buttons were a lot smaller. Although the pj buttons weren’t that big…but maybe the holes were a bit bigger, I don’t know. Either way, I was proud and surprised, as were Mom and Dad.

Now, maybe you’re wondering about the food. Because 50 people, that’s a lot to feed. I know with my family whoever hosts the meal usually makes the meat and some other hot stuff. Others bring the dessert and cold sides and buns and things. Adeline ordered bread from the bakery, but the rest of the meal was brought by everyone else. Including all the wine and bubbles and pop and stuff. So in that way it was less stressful than our Thanksgiving even though there was way more people. A special thanks go out to Jean and Val Ou who stayed to help us clean up. Others helped gather plates and things before they left, and of course everyone took their leftovers. And it was all buffet style so there was no need to set the tables or have room for food on them. This made things a lot easier.

I am now in my 3rd or 4th wind of the day which is the only way it’s possible for me to write this lengthy post. Plus I’m actually on my computer which makes it a lot easier. Cousin Marie – she’s about 13, 14…I don’t actually know and I’m horrible at age guessing – is a huge Justin Bieber fan. She’s great with little kids too. She had the kids sitting on Bastien’s bottom bunk while she read them a story which involved some actions on their part. I filmed it. After supper she approached me in the kitchen – “You’re Canadian? Do you know Justin Bieber?” – all excited like. Of course I know of him, I said, and I did actually see him once. She asked me if I preferred his hair longer of shorter like now. Since I’m not a fan I don’t really pay enough attention to him to have an opinion. The not being a fan thing is mostly to do with my age and his. And the fact that I think singing about something you know nothing about – *cough*love and relationships*cough* – when you sound like a young girl is a little ridiculous. Maybe I’m being overly judgmental. Shame on me. I said – in regards to the hair – somewhere in between. She agreed with me. I told her that if I happened to see him again I would tell Jean and he could let her know. She thought that was great. Who knows, maybe it will happen. Maybe I can ask him to say ‘hey Marie’ so I can tell her he said hi. I think she would like that. I could be all ‘dude, can you say hello to one of your biggest European fans for me?’. Don’t ask me why the dude is there.

Tonight was – at times – a little overwhelming. Definitely not as overwhelming as it would have been a year ago. Considering more than half of the people who were here tonight were people I was meeting for the very first time it could have been a little much, but I just took it in stride. I forget most of their names. I didn’t even learn a lot of them. I will say coming back home and meeting new people is going to be strange. I’ll have to remind myself not to go in for the mock-cheek kiss and shake their hand instead. I guess in my family we greet with hugs and well, yes cheek kisses. But those cheek kisses are real kisses. Here you touch cheeks and kiss at the same time. It’s just different. The only reason I did that with these people was because they’re family. If I was just meeting someone on the street or something there wouldn’t be kissing involved. Not the first time. I remember when I went to London and I met Martha’s flatmates (who were both Canadian) it was odd shaking their hands. Culture shock!

And tomorrow we get to do it all over again. Well, not exactly. Tomorrow is the Duchateau family get together. Tonight it was the De Costers. And we’re not hosting tomorrow. And it’s for lunch not supper. Tonight we didn’t actually start eating to going on 9 o’clock I think. I have a busy-ish week ahead of me. There’s all the last-minute stuff to take care of, the 21st I’m going to Jean’s for the cooking lesson we talked about at New Years, the 23rd we’re all going to Sybille’s for a farewell to me gathering, 25th is Christmas, and I leave the 27th! Oh, and Monday we’re having a Christmas/goodbye party in my French class. Today was my 2nd last Saturday in Belgium. This is just as odd as it was when I was waiting to come here. It seems like it’s so far away and then suddenly BAM! it’s here.

Well, considering it’s almost 1:30 in the morning and we’re leaving at 11:30 and I should be up for breakfast and all that I should really go to bed. I hope everyone had a great Saturday!

Oh and I forgot. There was actually snow left on the ground, some cars, and rooftops this morning. At 9:30 still. When the sun came out and starting really shining it all melted away, but I was surprised to see it all the same.

                                                                                                                        

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Twas the night before…uh, what day is it again?

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

Not being catholic and therefore knowing nothing about saints, I always assumed good ol’ St. Nick and Santa Claus were the same guy. In essence they sort of are…in the sense that Santa Clause (or Père Noël) is based on a real guy; St. Nicolas de Myrne (from Turkey). He is the patron saint and protector of children (and students) as well as the Lorraine region of France. 3 weeks before Christmas Eve, that magical night when Santa Clause flies around the world with his magical reindeer and sack full of toys*, St. Nicholas comes around with his sack of toys on his trusty donkey accompanied by Père Fouettard who hands out rotten apples and things to all the naughty children.

December 6th is his day and like Christmas Eve, the eve of the 5th holds a special tradition. All the traditions you know that go with Santa Clause are very similar to St. Nicholas – since the inspiration for SC was the real man. Of course, as with any legend, the stories of St. Nicholas are highly exaggerated, but they do hold a little grain of truth. He was a kind and generous man (Nicholas of Myrne) and the legends reflect that.

St. Nicolas and his trusty steed preparing to reward all the good children of the world.

Like the tradition of hanging stockings on the mantel, for St. Nicholas shoes are placed by the chimney; if you don’t have one you would place your shoes by the door or your bed. Along with the shoes is placed a carrot and some sugar for the donkey, and a glass of wine (or other spirits/drinks depending on the region) for St. Nicholas to help him stay warm. You know the Knight tent I mentioned before? Well, that was one of Bastien’s St. Nicholas gifts. Children get gifts on the 6th of December from him. Then 3 weeks later Père Noël comes along with more. Of course, not every family celebrates both, but these are the two traditions. Santa Clause is the more Americanized version, totally commercial, where St. Nicholas is based on a religious figure. He was a Turkish bishop.

All is in readiness for St. Nicolas' arrival.

Originally – and you may have seen pictures of this, I know I have – Santa Clause was dressed in green. So as not to be confused with St. Nicholas. Those of us in North America anyway will know him best as that jolly fat man with his snow-white beard and hair dressed in red with white trim and black belt and boots. According to the paper my teacher handed to us the tradition of the red clothes can be attributed to the Coca Cola company and their Coke ads around Christmas. I guess they decided he should be dressed in red and white to match their colours?

There’s also a song that children sing telling St. Nicholas to come, they’ll be good so he’ll bring them candy, come and visit them. I got a video of the last half of it when Bastien, Adeline, and Greg were singing it. It’s amazing the things you learn when you’re away from home ;).

In other news, I think Bastien is feeling a bit better tonight. He had a fever today, he was really, really warm. Once that broke looked a lot better. I guess he couldn’t keep his dinner down, but when I got home from class he was playing and was actually pretty rowdy. He did sleep a lot today, I guess he really needed it. You can tell he was actually sick because he was feeling too crappy to misbehave. He had a nap this morning, and again this afternoon. After a little he came downstairs, but I said it was really important that he get as much rest as possible and he didn’t fight me, but went back upstairs and to sleep.

I realized today that I only have to more French classes left. The 19th is my last one. Class was cancelled last week because my teacher’s granddaughter was born last Monday. So today Madame Colette brought in gummies and Smarties to celebrate that, and the Ferrero Rochers, clementines, nick-nacks, and chocolate covered marshmallow bars in honour of St. Nicolas. There were only 4 of us there today (actually, the 4 who are the most…competent in the class) so there was a lot of extra candy and we were told to take a lot. I took some extra gummies for Bastien because the doctor said he was supposed to have sugar, but no milk or chocolate. We talked about St. Nicolas and the tradition and then we did some grammar. It was a good class.

Oh! I keep forgetting. Sylvain can stand up on his own now, without wall, chair, or any other support. He’s making great progress and loves to walk around the house growling at things – especially the cat. He’ll go off, just wandering around, and then he’ll start walking back towards you and if you hold out your arms he’ll walk right into them and lay his head against you for a second…I think that’s his version of a hug/kiss. And he does all of it with a big smile on his face.

He's making a list, checking it twice... Or is that the other guy?

I guess we made it on the 'good' list. 😉

Sorry about the pictures…I’ll have to try to fix them later. The edit feature is not working :(.

*For those of you who choose to believe. Or if you just think it’s fun. ^_^

                                                                                                                        

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Grandglise in the Fall

This is another one of those delayed posts. But there are pictures so that makes it all better ;).

Sunday, October 30:

We went to Adeline’s Grandma’s place in Grandglise for a late lunch. There was also a hunt that day. The hunters were out and about, doing their thing when we got there. When they got back we at, but this time in the basement. I met a whole bunch of new people, and saw some somewhat familiar faces. After lunch the hunters quick went out again and Adeline, the boys, and I went for a walk in the garden. I also got to take some really nice pictures of the trees in full colour. Some trees anyway. I now have pictures of this place in April, in May, in August, and now in October. It was my last visit because it gets closed up for the winter. It’s quite the interesting house. I’ve been enough times to feel familiar with certain areas. I think Sylvain had fun walking around.

After Grandglise we went to Louvain-la-Neuve to have supper at Sybille’s for Jean-Go’s birthday. I’m not sure if I mentioned that on the day of or not. Most likely ;).

One thing I do want to mention is the hunters’ attire. It was so different from what they wear at home. No reflective vests or camouflage – the colours were all muted browns and greens, but the cut was classy. They all wore similar outfits, like uniforms. Not that I’m around hunters that often, but I do know that no one in Canada (at least not around where I live) where’s the type of clothes these gentlemen (and ladies) were wearing. And then there were the dogs. Since they drove to wherever they were hunting from (or close to it), when they got back to the house most of the dogs were left in the vehicles, but there were quite a few. I know in the first round they took down a lot of birds. The second round brought more birds and a fawn (I think…that’s a baby deer right? :S).

I did make a few notes of things that Bastien said that day. I can’t believe I almost forgot to post them! These all took place in the car on the way there. At this time the sun was shining in all it’s autumn glory.

These are all paraphrased and translated the best I could do at the time.

Bastien: Next time there’s a lot of sun I want to wear my sunglasses so my eyes won’t turn yellow. 

Adeline: Why yellow?

Bastien: Because the sun is yellow. *Following this logic we determined that if the sun was blue your eyes would turn blue…*

~~~~~

Bastien: I have lots of muscles because I eat all my food, so I have lots of muscles. *His way of measuring ‘all my food’ must be different from ours…he hardly eats!*

~~~~~

Bastien: We’re going to a castle like the kind with knights and princesses because that’s where Granny Duchateau lives. *Of course château means a castle*

______________

For his birthday Jean received two card games from Adeline. Does everyone know the game Balderdash? The one where you’re given a word and then everyone writes down what they think the definition of the word is and the person who chose the word writes down the real definition (or something like that)? Then everyone reads them all and guesses which is the right one. Well, one of the games was something like that. We were in a circle (and then proceeded to play around the table during dessert). Adeline started. She read off what seemed to me to be an extremely long paragraph of stuff I didn’t understand. The gist was basically what was the name of this citrus juice-er made by these two guys. I think that was it. The next person (actually everyone) in the circle reads the card, but they get to read the answer. They decide if they want to read the real answer or make one up. By the time it gets back to the first person the real answer has to have been read. Then the person who read the question guesses what the real answer is. I skipped out on the first round. These games are challenging at the best of times, not to mention trying to work everything out in French. 😛

Eventually I joined in. Sometimes I needed repetitions of things, but most of that was just because it was harder for me to remember the responses because they were in French and I had no idea what they were. There was one near the end that was particularly amusing. I can’t remember what the word was, but it had the word ‘hero’ in it and so everyone’s answer was a superhero. Except for Adeline. She answered Yoda and I was confused. Then we read at the end the explanation of the word in the question. It was a word for someone who, well, someone who talks like Yoda. Of course for me unless I paid very close attention to the question I didn’t get that there was anything odd about it. If in English it would have been a lot more obvious for me. The funny part was Sybille’s comment at the end. The true answer had been revealed and things were discussed and explained and then all of a sudden she said ‘is he Flemish or what?’. Everyone burst out laughing. Nothing against you if you are Flemish. I’m afraid this is not a very funny recounting of the event at all. Oh well, I tried. I guess it was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments.

And now for the pictures!

Unfortunately I’m not the greatest photographer working with a not the greatest camera so the colours look washed out.

I have a thing for colourful leaves...

Forget two birds with one stone....I'll take a whole row of them!

And the hunters return.

Pumpkins!

Click here for the full album

                                                                                                                      

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Baby’s First Birthday Party.

This afternoon Greg’s parents and brother, Adeline’s Dad, and Nico (Sylvain’s godfather), Claire, and baby Victor came for the 4 o’clock meal. We had the 2nd raspberry cake from last night (that Aurore made) and a chocolate cake from the bakery. Sylvain got to open his presents and seemed to have a good time discovering his new toys. It’s crazy because when you look at Sylvain with his two little cousins – one two weeks younger, the other just over two months younger – Sylvain is taller by at least a head than the other two. Then there’s Victor – who was born the same day as Capucine, just over two months after Sylvain – who is actually bigger than Sylvain! Both of his parents are really tall, but still. The boys were so cute playing together. At one point Sylvain was standing there holding Adeline’s hand and then he bent over to look in Victor’s face and babbled some sounds as if he was saying something to the other boy. We all laughed it was so adorable.

Bastien looked like he had a really good time with Jean-Phillipe (his godfather), they wore each other out. Bastien can be so very energetic! Sylvain even had some cake today! At first Adeline gave him a small piece and he proceeded to crumble it into tiny pieces and get it all over his shirt sleeves. Then she fed him some with a spoon and it worked much better.

I played with Sylvain earlier today when Adeline and Bastien did some grocery shopping. He was laughing and happy – as long as I didn’t get up. If I looked like I was leaving he would cry. I think his teeth are still bothering him because he’s not always like this. He has this great way of scrunching up his eyes and opening his mouth wide when he laughs. It’s great because then you can actually see his new teeth. And it’s a totally adorable look to boot. It’s fun when we’re all sitting at the table and Bastien will start laughing. This gets Sylvain going and the two of them together are hilarious.

                                                                                                                    

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Turtle Ice cream Cake

I bet some of you are thinking about Turtles (the chocolates) now! This wasn’t a ‘Turtles’ ice cream cake, it was just an ice cream cake made to look like a turtle. The body was ice cream (coffee flavoured) and the shell, legs, and head were made out of marzipan. The reason for said cake was because we had Dominique and Stella over for lunch today. Dominique’s birthday was yesterday. And next weekend is the big party! Lots of dancing. I’m not very good at ‘free-styling’. I’m decent at choreography. I look really silly though when I dance. I always feel like I’m working a lot harder than it looks like I’m working. When I was little I took ballet and jazz. While I figure skated I did some off-ice dance. In university I took a Musical Theatre dance class at my old studio and then went on to do two years of tap there. I also took 3 semesters of jazz at university. That was super fun and I loved my teacher (she was also one of the choreographers for the musical theatre club which is how I met here and got up the nerve to join her class in the first place!). Honestly, dancing (a dance class anyway) is my favourite form of exercise. Adeline gave me this program for a town near here that has dance, guitar, potter, acting classes, etc., and I’m thinking about joining one. Except that the one’s I’m most interested in are Monday nights. They start at 7, but I’m only ending my class at 7. Adeline said that maybe I’ll be put into a different class this term because of my level. Let’s hope so, because it would be really interesting to take a Contemporary dance class. Although that one who have to pay for the full year it doesn’t give a semester option so we’ll see what happens. Woah, everybody say it with me: off topic much? Let’s just say, now I want a Dairy Queen ice cream cake :(.

I can’t believe I almost forgot this. It’s actually the best reason for mentioning the cake in the first place! So like I said, it was in the shape of a turtle. Dominique mentioned that there was also a cow and a lady-bug. Bastien – who likes lady-bugs – asked why he got a turtle…or why he didn’t get a lady bug. I was doing other stuff, so I’m not sure. Regardless of how the question was phrased, this was Dominique’s answer (paraphrased): ‘Well Bastien, you know how lady bugs fly?’ (I’m imagining a nod from Bastien here) ‘And cows, they can run away’ (another nod maybe) ‘but turtles, turtles are very slow. That’s why I got a turtle so it couldn’t escape!’. That was the general gist of the conversation. And children are supposed to be the one’s with the active imaginations! I don’t think I would have come up with a story like that in his situation.

We had a lot of fun watching Bastien draw Dominique, Adeline, and Greg. I think I may have mentioned this before, but let me refresh your memory. When Bastien draws people (when he’s not drawing ladders) they always have a very large head. Small stick legs and arms that come out of the head, ears, eyes (sometimes 2, sometimes 4), the occasional nose (which looks just like the eyes – a dot – and is sometimes right in between them), and a mouth. And a little bit of hair. I always think Mr. Potato Head in these instances. I must say though, Bastien draws very good circles/ovals.

Dominique also came up with something to do when Bastien constantly asks to watch a cartoon; he kept asking him if he had heard of a certain story. After about 4 or 5 times Bastien asked him – forcefully – to stop saying that all the time. Dominique said then Bastien needed to stop asking for a cartoon all the time. It didn’t sink in. I tried a somewhat different spin on this, but it backfired on me. When he’s in a certain mood he loves giving hugs and kisses. When Bastien is tired or in another type of mood, he won’t do that if his life depended on it. So when he started asking for a cartoon again and everyone else was talking I asked for a hug. And I kept asking for a hug until he started to complain. Then I kept asking. This stopped and he played for a bit. Then he started asking for a cartoon again so I asked for a hug, but this time he gave me one! While it was nice it didn’t help prove my point. He doesn’t understand the concept of not always getting what you want, but really, what 3-year-old does?

Before supper was bath time. Sylvain kept standing up and of course putting everything in his mouth. When Bastien was his age he liked building things. Sylvain just breaks them (block towers and the like). Sylvain also puts more things in his mouth than Bastien did. Bastien is fine in the bath until you go to wash him. He doesn’t like getting his head wet. I’m not sure if it’s that or if it’s just the shower head. He doesn’t like getting water in his eyes and mouth, obviously, but it’s his own fault because he won’t keep them closed even when we’re not finished. And you give him fair warning every time and wait till he has them closed. I say ‘keep them closed, keep them closed’, but he’ll open them and then he’ll cry. Today when I started soaping his hair he started crying. So I said ‘ok. You can stay in the bath all night by yourself, I’m leaving with Sylvain. If and when you’re ready to get washed you can call me’. The next thing I heard was ‘I have to poo!’. I’ve decided never to fall for this again. So, I went into the bathroom, cleared out all the toys from the tub (with cries of ‘I want to play, I want to play!’ and told him he could stay in there until he was ready to get washed and if he poo’d that would be his own problem. I explained that every single time he says he has to poo while in the bath he never does. All that happens is the floor gets all wet and time is wasted. I left him alone again, no toys, hair full of soap, lights out (there was still light from the window) and then he called again. At least I think he called, I don’t think I went in there on my own. I can’t even remember! Eventually his ‘trial’ was over and he was in his pjs.

During supper Sylvain fell asleep. One moment he was wanting another cookie, the next Adeline looked over and he was asleep! Normally he’s so quiet (unless he’s really tired, hungry, or needs a change) you can forget he’s there, and this was one of those times. It was cute. He woke up a little when Adeline put him to bed, but it didn’t take long for him to fall back asleep. Tonight I actually read Bastien his bedtime story. And yes, he did correct me a few times, but it’s helpful.

Wait! This morning Bastien helped Adeline make a cake (it didn’t quite turn out how she wanted it) and was in a long apron and everything. Cute! When it was in the oven he came and told me the cake was all finished. So I responded that we could eat it, but he said we had to wait until Grandpa was here. Of course I was trying to get at the fact that in fact, it wasn’t finished because it still had to back. That’s what limited vocabulary gets you…

Yeah, it works! Sort of. (Updated version w/ pictures)

I was worried there for, hmmmm, about an hour I guess. I tried to get to this page to write my post, but it wouldn’t work! Small systems error it said. I did what they said and refreshed, but no dice. I tried about 30 seconds ago and the same thing happened! I was about to give up when I thought I would try one more time. Thankfully I did because this time it worked. 😀

 

 

 

 

I know it seems obvious, you know, because we’re in the mountains and all, but walking around is hard work! Especially when you’re overdressed for the weather. At one point we passed a store that had a sign which read +12. It sure felt warmer than that! Adeline, Aurore, and I walked around town looking for a shop where I could buy a decently priced sweater that says ‘Verbier’ or Switzerland on it. So far, not much luck. I did find one that I kind of like, but it’s 119 Francs. Yikes.

Today for lunch we went to this little restaurant that only serves crêpes. I had one with ham, egg, and cheese, and then a sugar and cinnamon crêpe for dessert. All that walking up hill certainly helped wear off lunch! The last leg up to the chalet we took a detour…I’m not sure if it’s shorter, but it’s certainly steeper and harder, not flat like the road.

After all this I had a nap. I think I got a little too much sun. I forgot about sunscreen (I put some on at lunch) and I didn’t have my sunglasses because I didn’t put my contacts in this morning and then before I had a chance to we had to leave and I just forgot I was wearing my glasses until we got outside. I’m fine now and it really was another exceptionally beautiful day.

Mmmm...Swiss Chocolate.


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