Tuesday, November 28, 2006
While I enjoy the jogging, I don’t like to be out alone on the dark, deserted biking/jogging paths in the evenings. I still do it; but even though we live in a nice neighborhood, I’m always a bit scared. I’m a big and strong woman; I know how to run fast, and I know how to fight; should somebody attack me I would be able to get away or at least put up a significant resistance. If I’m nearing the end of my run, however, I’ll be absolutely exhausted, and quite vulnerable, run-wise and fight-wise, which is worrisome. I wonder if it’s illegal in this country to carry around a knife. I wonder how other women deal with this fear. Certainly I can’t be the only one.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“Yes but I have to go diarrhea AGAIN!” he urged.
“We’re almost home, youngest one. Try to hold it. Just hold it.” I told him, whereupon he grabbed his behind with his hand and held onto it.
“No, not with your hand.” I said with an obvious tone. The youngest one looked up at me with a surprised face, almost shocked.
“Wh… Wha… With WHAT then?!”
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Last Saturday I went to the grocery store and was startled when I reached the meat section. Lo and behold; they had turkeys, on special. A whole section filled to the brim with fresh turkeys. What possibly had possessed our Belgian grocery store to suddenly start selling turkeys at the end of November?! Nobody knows, however our yearly dilemma was solved. We don’t need to order a turkey, but can simply get one at the grocery store, like normal people, a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Or can we? It’s not possible that they’d sell turkeys only one random week in November, run out, and then not have them again until Christmas, is it? Well, our unison answer was, this IS, after all, Belgium.
Tomorrow I shall, a bit nervously, return to the grocery store and hopefully, with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to buy a turkey.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
In Sweden, when your child is sick, the insurance system makes it possible for you to stay home and care for your child while receiving 80% of your salary. You can choose to transfer this benefit to a relative or someone else, should this be necessary. In Belgium, you have the right to stay home and care for a sick child 10 days/year, unpaid, with a doctor’s note certifying that your child really is sick. Because this is financially difficult or even impossible for a lot of parents, your insurance does provide you with an alternative; if your child is sick, you can call your insurance company, and they will send somebody to your house to care for your child while you are at work. I never ask somebody I don’t know to baby-sit my children even when they’re healthy, and the idea of leaving my sick, needy child with a complete stranger, no matter how certified, is intolerable. In my experience, most Belgians will ask a relative, usually a grandparent, to take care of the sick child, however with our families thousands of miles away, we don’t have this option. As so many times before, the husband’s work had to suffer, and he is home caring for the boys today.
I’ve travelled a lot and I have lived in several countries; since the Husband & I got married we’ve lived here in Belgium, always maintaining a close bond with both our families. The fact that there is a physical distance only became obvious when we had children. As parents, we now recognize our loss: we appreciate the value of having an extended family at hand, and the ability to rely on grandparents or siblings to be there for you, as you would be there for them, should the need arise. We can’t ask grandma to stay home with the oldest one should he get sick. The boys’ grandparents will not be able to attend the “grootouderfeest”. The Husband stays home with the sick boys, and we will both attend the grootouderfeest; we manage, however we also recognize one of the drawbacks of living abroad.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
My friend A., a home schooling caring mother told her children to "go away!" as she proceeded to tell me that they got all this from yesterday's event. As the whole family drove to vote, they had discussed certain issues and explained the procedure to their kids. In particular the issue "should selling wine in grocery stores be prohibited or not?" had been discussed (this was one of the extra questions on the MA ballots).
When I asked my friend A. "so, who did you vote for? Did you win?" she told me that she had not won. Massachusetts's two U.S. senators (since 1985) are Edward Kennedy (Democrat) and John Kerry (Democrat), and they are not threatened by my friend A.’s disapproval; it’s a Democratic state indeed. As she proceeded to point out, these elected officials are in fact supposed to be representing the people of the state of Massachusetts – us - however, quoting her husband Affleck-T. she concluded "but I don't think they're doing a very good job representing me."
My friend Untravel has also made a few interesting post election comments. He is of an entirely different political opinion than my friend A. It might be his Swedish heritage influencing him. The Swedish liberal press, of course, is musing: "President Bush has been slapped in the face and his next two years in office are going to be a painful struggle." This schadenfreude despite the rise in popularity the American president has had in Sweden since he participated in the inauguration of the new Swedish Embassy in Washington DC. “House of Sweden” last week.
The Belgian press appears to be more interested in the sacrifice of Rumsfeld but here it seems that political affairs tend to evolve around persons, not parties or ideas.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Following the American elections yesterday, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994; and the control of the Senate hinges on races in Montana and Virginia.
Britney Spears files for divorce from Kevin Federline. This time it’s supposedly for real. Why do I care? Because there are children involved.
So there you have it. The American society might or might not see changes in the near future, and the Hollywood divorce rate has again been confirmed.
A note on our local news today:
The Husband managed all his responsibilities yesterday, and is spending the day with the boys. As I left work this morning, Batman & Superman were discussing the destruction of ‘the monster’ behind the living room chair over a bowl of cereal.
My Brazilian colleague A. is busy preparing his art exhibition in Brussels, and I’m helping him with the translations of the titles of his works (they’re currently in French and my Brazilian colleague A. doesn’t speak English). It’s not as easy as it sounds. How would you, for example, translate the catchy phrase “Bien faire et laisser dire”?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
“So you didn’t go shopping?”
“No, not yet - I’ve been working! And now I have this translation I have to finish before my meeting tonight. I have to go get the boys AND I haven’t done the dishes yet.”
The Husband hence had to go pick up the boys and let them come with him to the store, which meant shopping took about double the amount of time. After the shopping there wasn’t enough time to prepare a proper dinner, the Husband somehow had to do the dishes while entertaining and feeding 2 hungry boys, and the translation… Well. Granted, the Husband is a brilliant Kant scholar and I’m sure he got great work done on his thesis today, something that’s really important. But still, wouldn’t better organization improve even further?
I would have done the dishes this morning (or even last night), picked up groceries on my way home from taking the boys to school, worked on my translation until it was done, then moved on to other work until it was time to get the boys, fed the latter an easy dinner bought at the store, and voila; all done. As the headline Jay Leno read out loud the other night stated “it’s not rocket surgery!”
Monday, November 06, 2006
When on Sunday morning I checked the Aqualibi website for the exact opening hours however, I noticed a small potential problem: There's a 'slips-only' law in Wallonia - only Speedos, and not shorts are allowed. My friend Texas-born M. & I go to the pool all the time, but I could not say for certain what he usually wears; I never noticed. He could be wearing Speedos for all I know, but something told me I should mention the regulation to him so I did. Indeed, he said; he never wears, and in fact would never wear a pair of Speedos. When deciding how to handle this dilemma, we first decided it might not be a big deal; he would bring his usual shorts. After all, this is Belgium. What is a law? After having looked at the website however, he called me back to say that he thought this might actually be a strict regulation. If it is, it would be foolish to go to Aqualibi only to be told he wasn’t allowed to enter, or worse; they would make him rent a pair of Speedos! Stores in Belgium are closed on Sundays, so running out to get a pair was not an option. Finally we decided to postpone until next Sunday, and in anticipation of the forthcoming event, my friend Texas-born M. promised me he would adjust his wardrobe accordingly. My friend Texas-born M. shall become Mr. Speedo.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
A couple of weeks ago we went to a special carnival shop and got white make-up to cover the youngest ones face & hair, and black make-up to create Jack the pumpkin king’s eyes and mouth. As soon as we got home I had to put the make-up on my son and it looked great. He looked just like Jack the pumpkin king. So much that when I turned him around and he saw himself in the mirror he freaked out and started crying, and I instantly had to wash his face. We have since been trying to convince him that the Jack the pumpkin king look is perfect, however he has not been persuaded. Hence the no make-up yesterday.
The party was a huge success; lots of friends, food, drinks, candy, kids’ play & games, A Nightmare before Christmas and The Shining. We had a Happy Halloween.
When we woke up the next morning, the oldest one asked me “mama, what day is it today?” and I told him it was Wednesday the 1st of November, the day after Halloween. “Next time it’s Thanksgiving” he said. How right he is.