Why do I do this to myself?

So Monday, Tuesday, and today I didn’t go for my morning walk. I just couldn’t get out of bed and decided I would be lazy. I have to be careful about my alarm to because it will go off (on my desk so I have to get up to turn it off), but then I’ll press snooze and bring it back to bed with me. Then it will get buried under a pillow and even at full volume I won’t hear it which means I end up sleeping in. Not good.

I decided today to make up for my laziness. Since I had time I was going to take a long walk. Boy did I ever. 21km/4.5 hours later I managed to make it into the house, eat, and then take a much-needed shower. I probably could have done the 21km in 4 hours instead of 4 and a half, but I didn’t most of my walking on those tractor roads through fields and because of the rain we’ve had in the last two days there were a lot of puddles and flooded areas which meant I had to tread very carefully. I wouldn’t really care so much getting my shoes wet (even though that would be really uncomfortable), but it’s not good for the orthotics and absolutely a no-no for the Nike+ chip (which is already acting up from the last time I went through a mud puddle/drenched grass). As it was after 3h 10m when I went to check my status it decided I was finished. So I had to start another workout for the rest. And for some reason it didn’t record a number for my ‘best 10k’ like it did for my best 5k. This is discouraging because if it would have worked properly I would have had a real comparison. And it also still says my longest walk/run was 8km. It lies. Before I had to start the new one it was over 15k. I do want to go back to the one ‘trail’ and take some pictures because it was pretty, and tranquil. And very green. Someone had just cut the grass so I thankfully I wasn’t wading through knee-deep greenery. Actually, the reason I was able to go where I went even with the puddles was because of my new walking sticks! With their help I was able to make my way over smaller dry patches than without them. I still rolled my ankle bad once and ended up on a knee, but it didn’t hurt my knee as much because it was in the grass, so I just got a nice grass stain on my pants. There were two other times that without the sticks I would have fallen, but with them I managed to stay upright. At first I wasn’t sure if I was using them right (I’m pretty sure there’s a technique ;)) and I’m not sure about the height so I’ll have to check that out. I think towards the end I managed to walk faster on that last stretch than if I would have had them. Plus, at the beginning of the last hour when I had to start a new workout I was so angry that I started off in a huff with more energy.

I was surprised it didn’t rain. It was cloudy most of the time and it was super windy, but there was no rain. I was thankful for that. I was so ready to collapse when I got home that I could barely stand up in the shower. My feet still hurt! The outside edges feel like they have pins and needles in them, but that might just have something to do with the way I walk. *shrug* So today was my longest jaunt yet. I don’t know if I’ll try for more, but maybe. I might try for 25/30km, but in less time so on roads instead of through fields! Although I don’t like the sticks that much on pavement so when/if I try I’ll probably leave those behind, I don’t know yet.

So now I’m going to hobble on over to bed and get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow will be laundry and blog organization. I have a lot of posts to categorize and tag!

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And when the dust settles…

For the past couple days Greg and Adeline have been tearing up the floor in the play room. For the last couples weeks they’ve been tearing down a wall up on the 3rd floor. There were a couple of guys here helping with the clearing out and tearing down and laying the stuff underneath the new floor, etc. It was dusty! All doors that could be closed were close to keep them as dust free as possible. The main hall and everywhere that wasn’t closed off needs a good cleaning. That’s to be expected though when you do this kind of work. It wasn’t as hot as yesterday and it rained off and on all day. The sun finally came out this afternoon.

I spent my time organizing (or trying to) little day trips for myself. There’s so much to see and I need to start doing more. Especially while I have until 5. I also wrote the first of 3 posts about Amsterdam, but I need to clarify a few things and I want to try to add some pictures so it isn’t going up today.

I took another trip to Decathlon (I really love that store) and this time came home with walking sticks for Nordic walking. They’re green and black. I love them. I wish I would have been on the ball and got them before going to Switzerland again, but I wasn’t. I think they’ll be great come winter because I don’t always have the best footing and if this winter is like last winter here we’ll get snow before Christmas. They’ll be good for at home as well in the winter. All year really, but the winter especially. My Mom says they are becoming quite popular in Canada. Maybe I won’t be so reluctant to tackle the hills at home now that I have these to help. Not that the hills right where we live are that bad, but in Canada I do live in a valley so to walk anywhere I have to climb a hill in either direction. Plus, I know that when I was taking those super long walks, for 3 or 4 hours, I really started to wish I had something to help keep my upright!

So tomorrow I have some tentative plans. It’s supposed to be about 27° and sunny with a chance of rain in the afternoon/evening I think. If it decides to rain early, my plans will just be slightly altered.

Quel animal n’existe pas?

The answer’s simple really. If you were going through a stack of educational cards/questions and were presented with a rhinoceros, a hippopotamus, and a dragon and had to say which one doesn’t exist, you would – of course – pick the dragon. Why? That’s easy. It has no tail….

This is Bastien’s way of thinking. The picture with the 3 animals shows a dragon (although when he says it sounds like ‘gragon’ and when I tried to correct him he just stuck to his guns) with no tail and when he picked the dragon as the non-existing animal he said it was because of that. No matter that it breathes fire and can fly (actually, this one didn’t have wings either – who was the artist in charge, I have a bone to pick with them). He’s also started this habit of saying ‘it’s not easy for you because you speak English’ when I either say a phrase or a word or anything really that isn’t quite right. Or when I ask him what something is. I find it hilarious, but at least he’s aware that French is not my first language and I’m still learning. This has been going on since my family was here.

I’m drawing a blank right now… I think I know what day it is. I mean, I think it was this morning when I went to leave for my walk, but had to come back inside and switch from my sweater to my jacket. I honestly am having issues with this. I keep thinking that was yesterday, but I’m feeling like it was today. Yes, today = jacket. It stopped raining after a bit and I was able to put my hood down. And if having a calendar telling me that time keeps moving forward isn’t enough, the sun is taking longer to rise. It was a lot darker at 6am today than it was a month and a half ago. But such is life. By the time I leave I’ll be doing my entire walk in the dark! Or I’ll just wait and do it later in the day.

After everyone was gone I got right to work. I emptied the dishwasher, starting filling it, started a load of whites, folded the rest of the already washed laundry, folded the socks in the sock basket, put the load in the dryer, washed my bed, tidied my room, vacuumed my room, put my wash in the dryer, was off and on Facebook, and took a shower. All before noon. Well, by the time I was done my shower, dressed, and back downstairs it was about 12:15. My Mom made a comment in an email that I’ve matured over the past 7 months…I don’t know how accurate that is, but I am starting to see the value in getting the stuff you don’t like out-of-the-way so you can enjoy the stuff you do. It’s only taken me 25 years to figure that out :P. I always knew that it would be better to get everything done first that needed to be done, but I just couldn’t be bothered. My procrastination gene was kicked into overdrive for most of my life and it’s only now starting to get pushed to the side by the gene of responsibility. Some days I still try to fight the yoke, but fortunately I’m making some progress – little by little. At this rate I might actually be able to survive on my own. Shock and awe, who would have thought! Some of me living on my own will be like throwing a baby in the water to see if it can swim. Or something like that, whatever that saying is.

During lunch I watched a bit of a French game show. Near the end when two contestants (the current champion and the one fighting for that title) were battling it out I was able to follow – to a certain extent – what was going on. It helped that they had every question up on the screen so I could read them. I didn’t know any of the answers, but at least I was able to understand almost all the questions.

When I arrived to pick Bastien up they weren’t quite finished. Today’s craft was a hat. Not just any had mind you, but the hat of a certain cartoon character. Plop!

Imagine Bastien in a hat something like that.

The kids all did a dance and sang. Then they sang a goodbye song. On the way out we also picked up his Mickey Mouse mask from yesterday. Again Bastien fell asleep in the car, but this time he woke up when we got him. I made him go to the washroom right away in case he wanted to go back to sleep, but he wanted to play instead. That’s when we started with those cards. We finished them outside because it was rather nice out this afternoon. Cooler than yesterday (when it got up to about 30°), but the sun was out and it was nice. And of course Sylvain wanted to put everything in his mouth – everything being dirt, grass, and all manner of plants. That boy I tell you. I guess Bastien was like that too. Boys will be boys. Or rather, babies will be babies.

Tonight was my very first time eating tofu. Some of it was pretty good, but I think I’ll stick with meat :P. We talked about how I have to make sure to organize and get recipes and stuff for a Thanksgiving dinner. They don’t have that here so Adeline’s never had one, but Greg used to have a girlfriend whose father was American (I think that’s what he said) so they would have Thanksgiving dinner so Greg’s had it once. Maybe Jean will help me cook it. I don’t know if I trust myself cooking a turkey!

What? I’m supposed to put something interesting in this line?!

Not much happened today. Really.

Walk. Sylvain. Breakfast. Played with boys. Folded some laundry. Played some piano. Watched a movie. Answered emails and Facebook. Read a couple of blog posts.

Picked up the boys. Bastien fell asleep in the car and he stayed asleep even as I carried him upstairs…after having drank about half of his water bottle. Silly Holly. When I got Bastien up I changed his sheets (you all saw that one coming, didn’t you?) and put on his pyjamas. Put Sylvain in his pyjamas. Set the table. Ate supper. Cleaned up.

Woot! Short post ;).

Bob l’Eponge

I slept in today. *sigh* I just couldn’t get up. For my walk that is. After seeing everyone off I started carting stuff from the play room upstairs into Sylvain’s room. We have to clear everything out because they’re putting in a new floor. I also sorted some laundry and did two loads (not mine). I don’t know how many trips I made upstairs, but I used one of the laundry baskets because it meant I could take more up in fewer trips. But the time I had taken a lot of the easy stuff up and switched clothes from the washer to dryer and put in a new load, I was feeling pretty gross. I had planned on taking a nap today to catch up on some sleep, so I took a quick shower and went to bed.

It was 1:15 when I got up. So, it was a nice little 3 hour nap. I was planning on setting up my time to talk my walk and then right when I finished jump in the car to go pick up Bastien. But one thing led to another and I didn’t do it.

This week I believe the theme for the day camp is cartoons or movies or something. Either way, today was about Sponge Bob Square Pants or Bob l’Eponge. As I walked in I noticed all these sponges on a table that had painted shorts, with pipe cleaner legs and arms, and eyes. I guess they put on a cartoon at the end while they wait for some of the parents to pick up the kids and they were getting that set up when I showed up. Of course Bastien wanted to stay and watch it. He said ‘I’m going to watch a little and then I’ll come, ok.’ He wasn’t asking, he was telling me. I said he could watch a little. It might have been better for him not to watch any at all for multiple reasons, but he actually came with not too big a fuss when I did call for him. One of the leaders was at the table with the sponges handing them out to two other kids. They all had the names on the bottom so she had to pick them up to see and of course Bastien’s was the very last one she looked at. Somehow one the way home he lost an arm….

Sylvain went to the doctor today and when Bastien and I got home he ate the apple I had packed in his bag for lunch today. Then we went outside and played for a while until it was time to go in for his bath. I still can’t get over how much Sylvain loves the water. I kind of feel bad every time I take him out because Bastien’s still in there and I think Sylvain wants to be as well.

After dinner I finally went for my walk. I started at 8:30. I decided I would take a longer route I’ve wanted to try for a while since I didn’t have to be back by a certain time. Something went wonky with my Nike+ chip and 1h 04m/5.72km in it suddenly decided I was finished. So I had to start another workout which lasted all of 16m/1.41km. By the time I got back it was quite dark, which I had expected so I wore my reflector vest. On my way out-of-town (direction of Namur) this random car honked at me as it drove by and the driver waved. I think there were a bunch of guys in the car, I couldn’t really see. This is the 2nd time that’s happened….The first time was at the end of one of my morning walks as I was coming back into town (from another road). That time a guy actually stuck his head out the window and waved while the driver honked. It was odd. That’s how I feel about it :P. Basically, I don’t want to be acknowledged when I’m walking. That’s why I like walking out in the country because there’s no one to see me. Or at least I don’t see anyone which in my mind is just as good. That’s partly why I never really walked at home. I don’t know why, but I never wanted people who know me to see me out walking. It’s not as bad now, but it was still weird in my mind. Other than that, a little bit of rain, and a lot of farm machinery with extremely bright lights, it was a good walk. I think I like the morning better because even though it might be dark-ish when I start, it doesn’t end that way. I don’t love walking at night. At home I was always afraid some animal was going to jump out at me. I don’t even know why. This was just walking from my neighbours to my house. And it wasn’t even that far away!! Baby raccoons are one thing, but adults *shiver* and skunks *shiver, shiver*. I know the coyotes stay away from people, but I think they’re getting bolder. I tend to have an overactive imagination and am perfectly capable of scaring myself without any help.

PLAY-DOH!

This morning getting up was hard, but I managed. Greg had to leave early so he was downstairs by the time I left. I didn’t take my jacket with me even though it was drizzling when I left. It stayed that way for most of the hour, but near the end it started coming down a bit heavier before coming to an almost stop by the time I got back. I can’t help but think of Glee when I say/think ‘drizzle’. Because in one of the episodes Quinn and Finn are debating on what to name their (well her) baby and Finn says that Drizzle would be an awesome name because when it’s super awesome when it’s drizzling out. Oh boy Finn…

I spent most of the day online, but I did manage to do a load of laundry and take a shower :P. Adeline’s car needed to go into the garage and when we were almost there a car with a trailer got in between us. I saw her turn signal, but not where she turned in. I had tunnel vision and drove right past the dealership. Realizing my error once I got the round-a-bout I went back around. We drove back to the house together and I got a little more insight into Belgian road rules. She asked if I always put my lights on during the day and I said yes, because that’s what we do in Canada and it makes it easier to see cars – and to tell the difference from moving and stationary vehicles from a farther distance. In Belgium though, you’re not allowed to have them on during the day unless it’s really dark from clouds, or if the visibility is bad (from fog I think). I have to make a conscious effort to remember because for me, turning my lights on is as natural as starting the car. Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing headlights in the day, but I can see a car (and judge the distance) much sooner and better when the lights are on, no matter what kind of day it is. But that’s just me.

When I picked up Sylvain this afternoon (Bastien has another day camp at Little Gym this week) he was outside with Catherine. As we were walking towards each other and he finally recognized who it was he let out a little squeal of delight. Oh to be recognized well by babies.

Bastien got a Play-Doh set for his birthday and Adeline brought it out today for them to play with. I was playing with Sylvain before putting him in his pj’s. Then we ate and after the clean-up, we switched. Adeline with Sylvain and me with Bastien. Greg was working late. What a long day for him! Bastien was great with the Play-Doh; he made me a sandwich, and a waffle. I made him a strawberry. He cut the head of my worm (yes it had a head, and hair, that’s what he was trying to cut was the hair) and then went about making his own. He can be really sweet when he wants to be. Which is, at least a little, everyday. And that’s good.

Here’s to all the fun Play-Doh can bring to young and old. So, if you can, scrounge some up and let lost your creativity!

You mean I could have slept in?!

This morning I got up – a little later than I wanted – to take my morning walk. 1h 05m 5.9km. I got back, got breakfast out and went upstairs to grab Sylvain’s cream from the bathroom before Greg went in there. I didn’t hear anybody up and I was a little confused. I’ve gotten them up before when I though they’d slept in, only to realize I was an hour ahead of myself. So I came downstairs and checked my calendar. Sure enough, today was a work holiday. Well, I thought, there’s no sense in going back to bed – it was 7:10 or so at this point – So I started emptying the dishwasher so I could get a head start on cleaning up the kitchen from last night. It took a little longer than normal because I was trying to be as quiet as possible. Well, I got it emptied, another load started, the counter and table (mostly) clear, the unopened drinks put downstairs, the table-cloth in the laundry room (where the ‘bar’ was) wiped down and folded all before they woke up. I mean, they were up by 8:30 so it wasn’t that long, but it’s amazing what you can get done when you just do stuff. My Mom’s probably shaking her head right now. It’s the kind of thing that your Mother tells you all the time, but you never actually listen or want to do it. I know Mom, you’re right! I had to make, I think, 4 trips down to the basement. Part of that was because I’m clumsy and if I try to take too much at once I’ll drop it. I also fed the chickens.

With my walk this morning I actually managed to jog for an extended period of time. And for me that only means about 45s to a minute. I didn’t actually officially count, but I started part-way through a song and decided I had to make myself continue jogging until it was finished. Of course I happened to be going up a slight hill at the time. My lungs were not happy with me. Or rather, my throat was protesting. It’s like in middle school when I had morning gym class and we’d have to go out and play lacrosse in the fall. The combination of cold and running always made me taste blood. Gross and painful. That’s what I get for being horribly out of shape though.

Today in Eghezée there was a farm fair type thing. Something along those lines. I stayed back with Sylvain so he could sleep, but Adeline, Greg, and Bastien went. Based on what they told me I would say it’s sort of like the Plowing Match that I’ve gone to a few times. Maybe not as big, but along those lines. I think. Anyway, that’s where they were today.

Sylvain took a long nap this morning and then finally woke up and had lunch. We had quite the afternoon. I was in the kitchen emptying out the dishwasher again so I had the playroom and dining room doors closed (for his safety). He absolutely loves playing with balloons and a bunch are in the play room from the party. Then suddenly I hear this paper crinkling noise. I go to check and he’s gotten into the bag that has the wrapping paper and the garlands that were put up. At first he was just sort of playing with the colourful garland, but then he wanted to put it in his mouth. I didn’t think that was a great idea so I tried to take it away. Well, it was long and the paper ripped easily so it took a little effort to get it all away.

After I was done in the kitchen I went to play with him. I went to try to play some piano, but he wanted to crawl on my lap so I let him play. He seemed to have fun with that for a while. And I sang to him a bit. It was nice to just sing, I haven’t done that in a few weeks. It felt good to use those muscles again and to bring out old songs I haven’t sung in ages, seeing if I remember all, if any, of the words. I hadn’t put him down for his afternoon nap yet by the time the others got home. I didn’t want him to go to early because he hadn’t been up that long. Bastien fell asleep on the way home so they took him right up to bed. I think they tried to put Sylvain down, but he was having none of that. After his snack time Greg and Adeline took him outside to play.

Then we had supper and after that Bastien and Adeline were trying out this new game. You roll a die and the number you roll is how many cheese wedges you have to put on a tray. The thing is, the tray is being held up by a mouse and it’s very wobbly. It’s all about placement and balance. And the kids not bumping the table!

I spent the time in between all that stuff catching up on some blog posts, but I’ve barely made a dent in the amount of stuff I’ve missed. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to reading all the posts of the blogs I’ve subscribed to, but reading a couple posts from each one is better than none!

You know how ‘they’ always tell you that even though exercise is a daunting task you’ll feel better afterwards? And if you’re not used to it or don’t like it (or think you don’t like it) you’ll deny this and say not for you. The thing is, sometimes it can take a while for the ‘feel good’ effects of exercise really start to kick in – where you can tell over whatever aches and pains you might have that you’re actually feeling better. I’m getting to that point right now. Even though I only had about 4 hours of sleep last night I still got up and went out. If I wouldn’t have done that I don’t think I would have had quite as much motivation to start cleaning up like I did. Man, being outside this morning was so refreshing I was even dance-walking to my music. Plus, the fact that I’m seeing results has me on cloud 9. Not huge results – then again, when you’re going for a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix you want things to go slow – but results that I can be ecstatic about. I have a goal to reach by the time I leave here. I don’t know if I’ll reach it, but if I don’t I’m not too worried because I know that I’ve taken positive steps towards a healthier future and that’s what counts. I have a longer way to go in the food department, but I’m very slowly (very slowly) making progress there as well.

So, for all of you out there who may be reading this and are trying to make positive changes, go for it! Dredge up that will power somehow and find a way to make it happen. Find someone or something to keep you accountable (Nike+ chip in my shoe does that for me). Most importantly, do it for yourself. I know that you probably hear stuff like this all the time. I know for me I always hear people saying ‘if I can do it, anyone can!’ and I think, ‘yeah, but not me’. The thing is… I am doing it. In this precise moment in time I’m focusing on positive thinking and not letting myself slip into an ‘I can’t do this so why bother’ state (which happens all to often). This mindset may change at any time and when it does I’ll just have to push myself past that till I get to the next positive stage. I can do it. I just have to keep telling myself that. My health is too important not to.

All the power to everyone who is in my position! You can do it! Woah, pep talk. Verbal diarrhea; it’s a disease, I swear :S.

Quelle fête!

What a party. I guess I’m still recovering from these past 3 weeks. I set my alarm to get up at a decent time this morning so I could shower and help get ready for the party, but alas, I hit snooze and then didn’t wake up until 10:30! You might be thinking ‘party…what party? Holly never mentioned any party’. I honestly can’t remember if I did or not. Today we celebrated Bastien’s and Adeline’s birthdays. Today is Adeline’s birthday. It was (is still) sort of two parties in one. For the 4 o’clock snack time there were kids (and their parents) for Bastien and his presents and cake and candy and juice. At around 6:30 more people started showing up. The supper (a BBQ) was for Adeline and her friends. It was great because I got to see some of the same people I saw at Greg’s party back in January. Some of them haven’t seen Sylvain since then and were surprised at how he’s changed.

Speaking of Sylvain. He was on the go this afternoon. More than usual maybe. Eventually we all went outside. Despite it not starting out as a very nice day (it looked like it would storm) the afternoon/evening were quite pleasant. Sylvain was crawling all over the grass and of course trying to stick things into his mouth that he shouldn’t. Eventually I put him on Bastien’s bouncing ball thing-a-ma-jig. You know, the ball with a handle that you sit on and bounce around with? I think Sylvain likes it more than Bastien. Bastien’s only used it the day he got it. Maybe one other time. Of course Sylvain is too small, but he had lots of help from me. He was laughing and bouncing himself and having quite a good time.

Sybille brought a cold noodle salad and she used her bowl carrier that my Grandma Jean made! It works very well. I took a picture for Grandma and everything. And of course there was another round of cake after supper. The first round was made by Adeline, the 2nd, by the bakery. I think I liked Adeline’s better, not as much icing. I did manage to help out this afternoon with cutting up vegetables for the veggie plate and mozzarella and tomatoes for a salad. There were some…odd…goings-on on my part, but I managed.

Before lunch I went into the toy room to find Sylvain playing and Greg and Bastien reading through some cards of Bastien’s. Eventually Greg said he was going to get some more things ready and Bastien decided he was going to help. So he told me that Sylvain and I had to stay in the toy room alone while he went and helped his Dad. It was hilarious (for me) and too cute by half. He said it in such a matter-of-fact way, as if he was giving me orders. At least Greg wanted that too because then Sylvain wouldn’t be underfoot. When the boys were taking their naps I helped.

Bastien got a bunch of cool toys, but I think the coolest gift was from Granny (Sybille). I think she bought it when we were at the Haut-Kœnigsbourg Castle – it’s a knight’s costume. It’s a robe type thing in red and blue that slips over his head and is tied at the sides. It also came with a hood that is meant to look like chain mail. He put it on, put his sword through one of the ties at the side, and got on his toy house. He was a real knight! But I change my mind. The coolest gift was a book he got from his parents. Not just any book, this was a book with Bastien in it! Adeline ordered it online. I think what she did was choose a story and sent in a picture of Bastien. Then his face is inserted into the face of the little boy in the story every time he’s on a page. The story is a boy who goes on a grand adventure (either in his dream or when he’s supposed to be sleeping). He’s a knight at one point, a pirate maybe, and a lot of other things. It’s really neat.

Do you remember my posts about when we went to the North Sea? Well, Nico and Claire were here today with their son Victor. He’s gotten so big since then! He looks like he’s almost the same size as Sylvain and he’s two months or so younger. Of course, both his parents are very tall. My Mom’s side of the family will know what I’m talking about. Think Luca and Dusty and you’ll know what I mean.

So, I’m tired, but I’m not. You know that feeling when it’s really late (midnight now) and you know you should go to bed because tomorrow you can’t sleep in, but you slept in late this morning so you feel you shouldn’t be tired? That’s what I’m feeling right now. Oh! I have to get up tomorrow and start my walks again. I almost forgot. I guess that means I really should head of too bed!

MIM

That’s the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels. As a former music student and a current resident of Belgium, to not go to this museum would be… almost sacrilege, or something. A lot of the older (sometimes stranger and not so old) instruments were actually familiar in the sense that I’d already seen plenty of pictures of them because of school. You were given headphones when you went in and there were little boxes you could plug them into to hear examples of music played on the instruments you were looking at. To listen to everything in full would take a very long time. There are 4 floors of instruments. There’s a restaurant on top where you can go to to access the roof for a wonderful view of Brussels. Unfortunately by the time we got up there, it was raining.

You might be wondering who I went with. Friends of mine from Laurier (Nathanael and Beth) who just got married and are here for their honeymoon. They flew in to France and spent a week in Paris. Nathanael has family in Ghent and that’s where they’re staying right now. They were actually in Louvain-la-Neuve the other day at the Tintin museum (the Hergé Museum), but I was busy with my family. It was really neat to get together with two friends from home and to share together our love of music (and Belgian waffles!). Driving in Brussels is….interesting. I’ve been a passenger twice, but still. It took me 25 min. longer than planned to get to the parking lot I wanted to go to because I kept missing roads. Some of the roads are very narrow and sometimes there’s a lot of roads all going off one place and it’s a little confusing. Eventually I found it and got parked. Now, last night I had searched for walking directions from the parking garage to the museum. What should have taken me 10 min. or less took me 40! They were late as well, so at least they weren’t waiting for me, but bah! They’re setting up for what seems to be some sort of music festival/concert shindig (I was focusing more on driving and walking to find the museum than looking closely at the posters to see what it is) so there are ways blocked off and there’s construction. I had my written directions (which only work really well if you take the right exit from the parking garage, which I think I did, but still) and a map from one of those handy travel books and I still managed to get myself lost. I basically walked in a big circle, back and forth a bit. They had stuff set up for the shindig in my way and I think that’s where I got confused. I was walking on the street I was supposed to be on and then WHAM! it’s a street I thought I was supposed to turn on, but the name was wrong. I was angry at myself because I could have saved a lot of time if I would have just done things differently, but sometimes you don’t know until after. If I ever go again, now I know! They were late as well and only arrived about 5-10 min. after I did, so in a way, getting lost kept me busy and now I will recognize that section (around the Central Train Station) if I ever happen to go again. Part of it was knowing what the museum was near, but also trying to find specific streets and being turned around and not knowing which direction I was headed in. I think I should invest in a compass. That would be a good thing. Besides, it was overcast so even if I could tell direction from the sun or whatever (yeah right), there was no sun to help me.

I even got asked for directions to the Albertine Square. I basically said it was in ‘that’ direction. I knew that was where I had parked, but I didn’t know exactly how to explain how to get there in a simple way and in French. I guess even with my backpack and standing outside a museum I looked like a local, go me! Haha, just kidding. She probably just asked me because I was just standing there. Easy target. Hey, if I know I don’t mind helping. I kind of like being able to give directions and knowing where I’m going and what’s around me. My Mom had right to fear when I got my driver’s license (or rather, to worry) because up until then whenever I was in the car I had my ‘nose in a book’ and didn’t know how to get anywhere. I have a much better sense of direction now than I did 9 years ago. Ouch. 9 years ago. That’s when I got my permit, not my full license. It’s still scary. I know I’m not old, don’t get me wrong, it’s just odd to think of my life in terms of me doing things like driving, 9 years ago. When I was 16, ‘9 years ago’ would have been playing with barbies, jumping on the trampoline, driving (there it is again) the go-kart in the drive-way (at least I didn’t crash it into the tree on our front lawn – *cough* it was Lisa *cough*). Actually, I can’t remember exactly how old I was when we drove the go-kart and had the trampoline, but it must have been when I was around 7. For me it’s just a little strange to think that that long ago I was starting to do ‘grown-up things’.

The Museum. I did see some crazy odd instruments I’d never seen or heard of before – have any of you heard of a keyboard/cello contraption or a set of self playing brass instruments? I mean like the player-pianos but brass instead – and a theremin, which I’ve actually studied a bit in my later years at university, but never seen in real life. I’d seen a picture or two, but not very good ones. Those things are odd. But that’s 20th Century experimentation for you. There was also a small showcase on musical torture instruments. You see, to be a virtuoso at the piano, you almost have to have certain hands. At least if you want to play some of the great composer’s piano works you need to be able to play more than an octave (spanning 8 keys) with one hand. I just reach an octave, I have stubby fingers. Sometimes I can make it 9, but that’s pushing it. They had contraptions for (what we assumed) stretching the fingers longer (not good – dislocation and breakage do not help your case!!!), a contraption to stretch your fingers wider (it looked like it could hurt if gone too far, but also might just be nice to stretch those muscles like all the others), and something that we think was for coordination. There were 5 metal rings hanging below 5 metal key type pieces. We assumed you put one hand in the rings and played the keys with the other. Doing this would help the fingers do the same motion at the same time. So when you have a lot of runs you need to play, both your hands work together in the same fluid motion. Of course you don’t use the same fingers at the same time – pinky/thumb, ring finger/index, middle/middle/, index/ring, and thumb/pinky. I remember practising exercises on the piano that helped with his, but there was no contraption! The things people would do for an edge. Then of course they probably just ended up doing irrevocable damage and still couldn’t play! Like Schumann; we’re pretty sure he invented his own device to stretch his fingers. Then again, he went crazy in his later years…

I told them that when I’m going around places I’ll see people and think they’re people I know. I’ve seen quite a few possible doppelgangers. I think I’ve already mentioned this fact in a post…hmmm. Beth told me that she saw one of my doppelgangers (I have at least two) somewhere. I guess the girl was staring at her. She thought ‘either she’s staring at me because I’m staring at her (trying to figure out if it was me or not), or she’s staring at me because it is Holly’. Unfortunately it wasn’t me.

I’m so glad I was able to spend a few hours with them today. They leave tomorrow. I haven’t seen Beth in at least a year and Nathanael even longer. She plays the clarinet, he the saxophone. So I was never in any ensembles with them, and neither were in my year so we never had any classes together, but Beth and I were both on the Music Association Executive and…I’m not sure how I initially met Nathanael. Maybe at a S.A.M.E. event. That’s pronounced ‘Sammy’. It stands for Student Association of Music Educators. In first year they came into my skills class and I remember seeing their sign thinking ‘why would you use the word “same” on your posters and what the heck does it mean?’. Now it makes sense to me and I can’t think of it any other way. I’m kicking myself because I wanted to get a picture of them/with them, but I forgot!!! Nathanael got a picture of Beth and I and I know I got an arm/hand of each of them in some pictures, but that’s all. It’s not something that happens everyday; you’re in a foreign country for an extended period of time and you’re able to meet up with friends who just happen to be honeymooning in that same country. Oh well. At least with this I’ll always remember ^_^. Kinds of makes home a little closer.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

This is true. While I’m glad to have my room, my space back, it was sad to see my family go this morning. There were definitely tears involved, mostly from my Mom, a little with me. I had more tears driving back home. I would have liked a little bit more time to say goodbye, but by the time they checked in I only had 15 min. left of my hour for parking. Staying longer would have been more expensive! Lisa drove with me and we separated when they went to return the rental car. Greg had explained to us how it works and that we could go the same way and I would just split off to park, but I kind of messed that up and stopped following them when they went into that section. I think it was actually easier for me where I did end up parking. It was cheaper for an hour anyway and I was actually on the same level that they had to be on. All Lisa and I had to do was walk out of the parking garage, cross the lane, and as soon as we entered we saw the screens for departure check-ins, gates, and times. There was a little confusion between Dad and I when we were texting to get back together, but it wasn’t really that big a deal.

Greg and Adeline had gotten up and had made fresh croissants and another chocolate pastry for breakfast. I think if that wouldn’t have happened we probably wouldn’t have eaten anything! We hit a little bit of congestion near Brussels, but it wasn’t that bad. Lisa and I arrived at the parking lot at 6:45. Their flight was at 10:15, but they weren’t sure how long it would take with the rental car and they just wanted to get there. Turns out the rental car return didn’t open ’till 9, but the guys that were there early said they could just leave the car there. Mom and Dad remembered the GPS and the chord, but forgot the piece it sits in that attaches to the windshield. At least we have another one that goes with the new GPS, we were still using the old one from the GPS we misplaced.

So I basically came home (basically no traffic, it was awesome) and went to sleep for a couple of hours. It wasn’t a very restful sleep, but it was sleep. Than I finished my new audio book that I bought last week. Adeline mowed the lawn with Bastien and I helped her make supper after. Greg just got home, he was visiting his Dad. After supper Adeline, the boys, and me watched the movie ‘The Wild’. In French of course. I’ve never seen it before so I only knew the basis of the story line. The dialogue went by really fast, but I managed to catch somethings and even laughed at some of the jokes.

I guess they (whoever ‘they’ are) recommend families not to visit their children who are Au Pairs or exchange students because it makes it that much harder when the families leave. I will admit that their visit made me a little more homesick, but I’m going to enjoy the rest of my time here because I know it will just fly by and when I’m home I’m going to sometimes wish I was back here!

I actually have plans to go to a museum in Brussels tomorrow to meet with a couple of friends from university who are here on their honeymoon. It’s neat how those things work out.

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