Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sick days

Brendan is off school for the second day in a row today. He has a terrible cold and the same chesty cough he seems to get every winter. Steve "worked from home" yesterday morning while I taught my English class and today we're having a lovely slow day. Indoors for now until it warms up a bit. It's a wintry day today.

We've made some orange and raisin cookies.
A not-so-well Brendan eating cookies for breakfast.

They went upstairs earlier and I heard a lot of giggling and bossing going on and then they came downstairs both dressed as firemen.

We love playing games by Orchard Toys. Especially If you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream and Shopping List. They are perfect for cozy days inside when the weather is yucky.

I normally blog when the boys are asleep but thought I'd get a quick post done while they were playing happily. Tadhg, however, has reminded me that that is a silly idea by smashing a mug on the kitchen floor. That's the second shattered piece of crockery in as many days. When we head to Scotland next week I'm going to take advantage of some free babysitting and head to the charity shops to buy up any game by Orchard Toys, any wet weather gear that is roughly the right size for either boy, any next size up shoes for Brendan and maybe some kitcheny things to replace all the broken ones.

It's hard to find second hand clothes and shoes here in Belgium and I can't bring myself to buy new stuff. Shoes especially are really expensive. I bought two pairs of boots for Tadhg the other day at a brocante (car boot sale of sorts) for 3 Euros each but they came in their original shoe boxes with original prices of 89 and 103 euros. They are lovely shoes but those prices are ridiculous.

Must go and spend the day with my two lovely but boogery boys.

A garden update

We've cleared the weeds from around the tree and Steve put up a tire swing using old climbing rope and a scavenged tire we came home with from a walk a while ago. There is just about enough room on another branch for a small plank swing too.

The ground is still full many of the nettle roots we haven't pulled yet so it will need to be properly turned over and cleaned up before they pop up again next year.

Here's Brendan showing off his "bandage" after a particularly bad brush with nettles. It was actually my fault and I was stung just as badly. I was pulling weeds around the garden and had a handful of nettles and thistles (with gloves on) when Brendan and Tadhg started a massive fight over something in the sand pit. I just completely forgot about the weeds and somehow picked Brendan up as he was about to attack Tadhg with a (sharp, metal) spade and promptly dropped him again as both of us were badly stung and scratched by the particularly vicious weeds. He reacted badly but a cold, wet napkin made it feel a bit better. I was still feeling it the next day... ouch!!

We harvested some lovely fennel bulbs yesterday and will do something with them today. I've never really used them so some research is required. Brendan wasn't really looking at the camera but was daydreaming when I took the photo above. I can't remember what we'd been talking about and have no idea what he was thinking but he stood there for a long while.

We've found a wood man not far from us and have asked for some logs and stumps. Hopefully they'll come soon and we can have fun deciding where to put them.

I've also sorted through the winter clothes and have tried to make it easier to get dressed and undressed by the back door- for those times when I just MUST put the boys outside IMMEDIATELY before I tear my hair out :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What did we do!?!

So here's a photo of our baby with his new haircut. He instantly grew up. So much so that Steve thought he was old enough for a beer.

And just so that it is in the same place- here's another "before" picture of the hair.
Sometimes the only way I can get the supper made is by allowing Tadhg to "help" and keeping him away from his brother. Man they fight like... well, like brothers I suppose. They also play well together too. But not right before supper. Or before I have an English class. Or at any other time when I need to "achieve something". Hey ho, that's what it's all about :)


Last Saturday we got up fairly early, as usual, and threw out ideas of things we could do. And as usual, we couldn't make up our minds! At about 10 ish, after pottering around the house a bit we decided we definitely had to get out (we all get along much better with each other if we don't hang around inside too long on weekends) and so I suggested Bruges and within about 10 minutes we were in the car and on our way. I wish we could get out the door that quickly during the week when we do actually have to get somewhere at a certain time.

Bruges is beautiful. It isn't a particularly busy time for tourists but it was fairly busy anyway, although we didn't have to wait to find a horse and cart or a boat tour.

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of Steve walking hand in hand with his boys- so cute. They both had a wonderful day. We parked at the train station and took the free bus into the centre. We jumped on a horse and cart first, then did a bit of walking, then had lunch, did lots more walking, a boat tour, more walking, went in a few shops, passed by a few museums (thinking we'll come back without the kids one day) and finally headed back to the station and home. A great day all round.

Oh, and note that long haired photo of Tadhg which is an appropriate "before" shot. His long golden curls are no more! I'll need to get the "after" shot from the camera and put it on here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stories and chat

Brendan and I were reading a story in which a new baby was born.

Brendan: Mama, why is the baby in the mummy's tummy?
Me: It's growing and waiting until it's ready to come out.
B: Why does it come out?
Me: Because it's big enough so it's ready to get out of there and see the world.
B: Oh
Me: You were in my tummy too you know, and then you decided it was time to come out.
B: But when I was coming out of your tummy, I was coming out and then I went back in and then I couldn't come out.
Me: Why couldn't you come out?
B: Because there was no room and I was pushing and something was in the way, there were bricks in the way.
(all of this with extra gestures- bumping his head on "bricks")
Me: Then what happened?
B: I was stuck
Me: But then what happened?
B: Then the bricks were smashed out of the way and then I came out really really fast.

Wow, do you think he remembers his birth? :) Not that there were any bricks involved but it may have felt that way to him I suppose.

I think I should start writing down some of his stories. The other day, as we sat round a fire in the garden, he told a very long rescue story that became quite elaborate. I have a habit of prompting him by asking questions but I'm trying to just keep quiet and listen sometimes. More often than not now he needs little prompting anyway and goes off on various flights of imagination. It's often obvious which story or cartoon or real event is his inspiration but sometimes he totally surprises us with something completely random and interesting.

Tadhg is into imitating his big brother. It's very comical- he's so exact and quick to copy. It's just as well Brendan doesn't find it annoying. Our favourite time of day is when they wake up and come through to give us a cuddle and kiss and sometimes climb in to bed for a bit. Then, once they are both awake, Brendan says "Come on, Tadhg" and they toddle off to his room to play with trains or do puzzles or read books. We just lie in bed listening to them playing and Brendan speaking so lovingly and gently to Tadhg.
This morning we watched as Brendan went to the loo saying "I need a wee. Come on Tadhg, come and watch me doing a wee... This is how we lift the seat and then I pull my trousers down and then I do a wee like this, are you watching Tadhg? And then I have to pull my trousers back up like this and then we can flush the toilet. Okay, let's go back to my room now. Come on, Tadhg."
The peace usually lasts about 20 minutes and then they start to argue and push each other around and that's our cue to get up and head for breakfast.

I'm gathering some photos of our village and the centre of town and will get them on here soon. We just had our friend Anthony over from Canada for a visit. Steve and Anthony went to Amsterdam at the weekend and then to Vimy Ridge for a day trip. We also went back to the wonderful Parc Paradisio for the 4th time this year and generally enjoyed Anthony's company, sitting around the fire, talking about life, our dreams for the future, and various topics such as Afghanistan (arrghheucchh). Oh, and sharing "annoying" you tube clips.

Anyone else want to come and visit soon? We LOVE having visitors. And the spare room is nearly finished. Paris is 2 and a half hours away, Brussels is close, Amsterdam not too far, Christmas markets start next month, have a caravan, have a minivan that seats 7, have two motorcycles, lots of good bread and food and beer, Belgians are lovely and French is fun. Oh, and the chocolate is seriously good. Everyone always mentions chocolate and I just shrugged it off thinking yeah, whatever, lots of countries make good chocolate, but I am not so indifferent now. It really is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Childhood outside

I love being with the boys when they are out exploring and experiencing the world. They just become enraptured by the smallest little thing. Brendan is into conkers and falling leaves and other signs of autumn at the moment. As well as asking "why?" at least 10o times on a walk. And Tadhg imitates my exaggerated expressions of awe and wonder so perfectly- he'll pick up a piece of grass or whatever and look at it intently and go "wow" and "ooohh". If we are having a bad afternoon or if someone's a little tired we just need to head outside and a grumpy day is transformed into a calm and peaceful one. Until we get back inside, that is, and the fussing or fighting just starts right up again :)
I've taken on a bit too much at the moment but I'm thinking of starting a little outdoorsy playgroup that will get together somewhere (maybe even just the garden) once a week regardless of the weather. Maybe in the spring. I just need to find some like-minded folks now.

We're seriously thinking of getting a few chickens in the spring. This picture shows a couple of the very fancy chickens at a park near us- ours are unlikely to be as good looking! One of my french teachers offered me some young hens that are about ready to start laying but when I asked if the boys would be able to pick them up we agreed that it might be better to wait till spring and get some teeny tiny ones. Anyway, we need to build a hen shed, clear some of the weedy field and put up some more fencing first.
Watch this space.

I'm off the bed now, thinking about my friend Kath who is hopefully birthing her second baby any minute now! It was fun talking to her a few hours ago while she was in labour and breathing through contractions while I jabbered on. Looking forward to hearing of his or her safe arrival tomorrow.