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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The Final Countdown

I may not be counting down to Venus, but I would say home is just as good.

Tonight is special in that I only have 5 more sleeps till I leave. I’ve had this idea for title/video for months. I think I was planning on using it this summer when my family came. Then I thought it was better suited for today. It certainly won’t be the last countdown in my life, but it’s the most bittersweet, exciting one right now.

Today started off a little rough. I wasn’t in a very good mood and I had to call Bastien 3 times to come take his temperature. He was sitting on the couch, his cartoon finished, and all he had to do was come into the next room. I was not impressed. Things got better though, I cooled off and got it through my head that he is sick and he is 3. Sylvain had two naps today, Bastien one. Bastien was actually quite energetic. He was running a fever almost the whole day, although it almost broke before lunch. He was exceptionally warm when he came down to ask me to fill his water bottle because he was very, very, very, very, very, very, very – I lost count – very, very, thirsty. Except for his ‘tardiness’ this morning he was really good all day. Until supper when we went through the usual “‘I don’t like this’ ‘I want help’ followed by threats of making him eat alone in the kitchen and blah, blah before finally him eating and saying it tastes good” episodes.

We talked about what we have coming up. I asked him where we’re going tomorrow and first he said Chez Kathrine (Kathrine’s house – the babysitter). I said no, Granny’s – ‘yeah, I get to see Clémence!’. I asked him who is coming on Saturday and he said ‘Mammi and Pappy’ (Greg’s parents). I asked who else and he said Jean-Go and Val Ou…I’m not sure where that came from :P. I corrected him, ‘no, you’re godfather’, ‘Jean-Phillip!’ and he is who? ‘Papa’s brother!’. Then he said it was Christmas and after that I go home. So he is totally aware of what’s going on. We had a discussion about flags and colours (of Belgium and Canada) and then I asked him what country he lives in. His answer was Wasseiges. Hmmm. Well no Bastien, you live in the village of Wasseiges which is in the province of Liège and the country of Belgium. Before I explained that I asked him what country Wasseiges was in and he answered Canada…tee hee hee. Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?

Bath time was fun. Why is it that as soon as you take a diaper off, kids will pee all over the floor? I took off Sylvain’s diaper and was about to put him in the tub when he started peeing. He was just standing there, letting it go. He seemed pretty happy with himself. Waving his arms around ‘yeah that’s right, I’m peeing on the bath mat!’. They had a lot of fun in the tub tonight. They were laughing and splashing and laughing some more. It was awesome. I feel so bad when Sylvain goes into one of his coughing fits. His face gets all red and he looks like he’s choking. Sometimes it’s a little scary. Thankfully though he hasn’t had a fever all day. You know how all doctor’s have horrible penmanship? I mean, of course I’m stereotyping here…Well, reading names of medication is tough enough, without trying to do it in a foreign language. And the instructions, oh boy. Thankfully it’s mostly things like 3 f/j (3 x/d) and 3.5ml and stuff, not too much to read, but still. And it’s different for both. Some stuff is the same, but man, I’m going to be a pro and medicine regimes if I ever have kids. Thankfully there’s not very much fuss when they have to take the stuff. I guess it tastes good :P.

I’ve got most of my clothes packed up. Just the stuff I’m going to be wearing over the next few days is out. The rest is in the vacuum seal bag my Mom left for me. I used my ‘travel’ bags (no vacuum needed, you just push the air out) on the way over, but this works better because you can get so much more air out. Plus, I’m pretty sure I can fit all of my clothes into the one bag. So I’m thinking clothes and shoes (or at least some shoes…I have too many here…I acquired some while over here) in one bag and everything else in the other. I’m thinking I should be ok weight wise too. I can’t remember if one of my suitcases was overweight coming over here or not. And I’m trying to think what is staying over that I brought. Because I certainly didn’t bring the maple syrup! I know I brought Ice Cider and some Roots wear for the kids. My HUGE bottles of shampoo and conditioner won’t be coming back with me, so that will lighten things up a bit. I brought a lot of other stuff with me that I used throughout the year that took up space, but not that much weight, so I don’t know. Well, if I am, I am. I shouldn’t be over the final limit, so if I’m over the initial limit I’ll just have to pay. I know I could have shipped some stuff home, but this is me we’re talking about. I procrastinate. And I couldn’t decide if sending stuff home would be worth it. I have to pay for the 2nd suitcase anyway, why also pay to ship stuff home? That’s all moot now regardless. I’m not really looking forward to packing. Getting everything in the first time was bad enough. I know space has been made, but I’m still not looking forward to it. At least my clothes will be more compact.

Enjoy the video! Made in 1986. Good year. I should know, I was born then ;).


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I prefer babies to bananas myself.

So today I actually did something useful! Well, I started something useful. I started cleaning my room. It needs it really bad. I could have finished it all today, but I got distracted during the tidying process. I started organizing my list of things I need to claim, and prices and stuff. My Mom left behind with her (I don’t think it was on purpose) a good-sized bag that zips closed and I’m using that to put all my souvenirs, brochures, and souvenir books. I have it all organized. I just need to add a few more things to it and it’s all packed. I got all my laundry washed and dried (or drying), and I got my shelves and desk cleared off and dusted. So tomorrow I need to fold and put away my laundry and vacuum and my room will finally be clean again. I’ll make sure to do another thorough dusting and vacuuming before I leave and we should be good.

Me and the boys had an interesting play time this evening. Bastien got a knight’s play tent (it looks like a mini castle) from his Paternal Grandparents and so he was in there with Sylvain. When they first went in he told Sylvain to hurry because there were sharks and crocodiles who would eat him. I said I was a crocodile and I would just wait outside the tent flap for any unsuspecting children. Bastien had a stuffed monkey with him and a Lego piece that he said was a banana. He kept sending out the ‘banana’ saying it was for me. I told him crocodiles don’t like bananas, but babies taste pretty good. Sylvain kept coming out and then I’d pounce and he’d scurry back in. He’s pretty smart, he got the hang of the game fairly quickly. I just have to be careful that he doesn’t break my glasses. I need a new pair, but I can’t afford one right now so these will have to do for a while.

Before all this Adeline was checking Bastien’s throat (yesterday he said it was sore). So she looked with a flashlight and told him to say ‘ah’. Then she called Sylvain over and held up the flashlight. As he was walking towards her he opened his mouth and said ‘ah’. Smart kid! Then he kept trying to take the flashlight in his mouth, but still.

So there was lots of laughing going on as the boys tried to escape from being ‘eaten’ whenever they would venture forth from the tent. Before supper we all started to calm down and I even started reading Bastien a story. Oh, and the other day at lunch Adeline told him that I was going home soon. Then of course he said I would be back. She had to explain again that Canada is my home and that I was on a long vacation this year (it was the easiest way to explain it to him). Like when he goes on vacation and stays in a different house and then he comes home to Wasseiges. He thought Wasseiges was my home and I was just going to visit Canada. I wonder if he’s going to ask them where I am when I don’t come back from the airport. I think he’s done that before when I’ve been away for a couple of days.

So as you can see I was busy doing some much-needed room cleaning and therefore didn’t have a chance to load my pictures. I have a lot of them for London Day 2, but I might just have to post some to start if I ever want to get the post written!


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Another blast from my past!

Sorry, no videos today :P. This time it’s a friend! My friend Lucie from Laurier. We went to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada together. She played the flute and I sang, but we shared a lot of classes. We also shared a love of dance. She took Ballroom and I took Jazz. Our classes were near each other ‘back stage’ at the one showcase and we got a couple of pictures of the two of us together. I refuse to show them here. My ‘costume’ looked quite ummm, well, not good one me. But what can you do. We had to provide our own outfit and I did what I could with what I had, which wasn’t much. I digress.

Lucie’s Aunt brought us cake too. Apple and chocolate. I had a slice of apple already and we’ll have cake for breakfast tomorrow. The apple was so good ^_^. He Aunt and Uncle were very nice and were sad to see her go. I think the last time they saw her she was 8. So it’s been a while.

We have a somewhat early start tomorrow. We have some stuff planned out and some we’re just winging it. We’re planning on going to 3 museums; two have to do with food. Bruges is also ‘the place’ in Belgium for the famous Belgian lace. Since we’re not doing too much on Monday I might be able to get some pictures up, but I’m not promising anything.

So today. We have an adorable moment alert! Adeline brought down her pirate cap and put it on Bastien. Then they put on his pirate rain boots. Then she found a black eye patch and attached some string. He was so cute! After supper he got his rope and attached his sword to his waist. Even with just that and his regular clothes he was pretty convincing. The scowling helped. He said he had to do it because he’s a pirate. And he wasn’t Bastien – he was Mr. Pirate Bastien (or Monsieur Pirate Bastien). Then he went looking for treasure. He pointed his sword at Sylvain and said ‘Mom, I found some treasure, it’s Sylvain!’. So cute! Then he did this again. ‘Mom, I found some treasure, it’s Holly!’ At least I was a treasure for a little while, because after supper I wasn’t anymore. And when Lucie’s Aunt was holding Sylvain, she pretended that she was going to take him with her. Bastien didn’t like that. He very clearly stated that Sylvain already has a Maman, a Papa, a Holly, and a Bastien. ^_^ I don’t know if I’ve already mentioned this, but a little while ago Bastien said something about having 3 parents. Or something like that. Adeline had to explain to him that I’m not a parent of his. That’s one of the hard things about having someone come in when the kids are this little – they get used to that person being there, but don’t quite understand the concept, or their (the au pair’s) role.

In other news, I think I’m going to send a package home after all. I’ve accumulated a few things, clothes, shoes, and the like, and I’m afraid that a) I won’t have enough room in my suitcases and b) they’ll be too heavy. I’m already going to have to pay for the 2nd suitcase. I’d rather not have to pay for one or both being overweight. Depending on how much it costs to send home what I want to send home it might be cheaper it might be around the same, but it will be easier to send a package home I think than having to deal with it at the airport. So I gathered my shorts and capris and put them in a ‘vacuum seal’ bag (it’s a travel one that you push the air out of, so not as good as the vacuum one’s) and gathered some summer footwear that I won’t need anymore. I don’t know how much of a difference this will make, but we’ll see. I know it will take a while to arrive and I’ll probably get home before it, but I might send some more stuff closer to departure. Stuff that I won’t need right away. I don’t know. I kind of want to pack up my suitcases and see how much they weigh. I’m getting nervous and worrying again, I need to stop.

Here’s to a fun-filled day tomorrow with no worrying!


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