Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthday, Bonfire & Beer

Another year has rolled around and Siobhan is now 34. This birthday was special in that her family, Caitlin, Paddy and Uncle Phil, flew over as a surprise. Or maybe not?
(They all tried but by the time the day arrived I knew they were all coming- didn't make it any less special! Siobhan)

A lovely tidy house before everyone arrived.

A walk in town on Saturday. We went to my favourite junk/vintage shop in town. Paddy was less than thrilled! We then had brunch in my favourite cafe- a birthday is a day for favourites :)

Ready for a rice and curry birthday dinner. Siobhan's favourite obviously. Homemade by Steve & Paddy.

Uncle Phil made birthday cake(s).

Supper was followed by a chilled out evening by the fire. Notice Tadhg in the sand box- he had had a long nap so wasn't ready for bed till quite late. I think it got dark well after 10.30, so this is later than it looks.

Not sure what's going on here.

The day after. Here's Caitlin and Tadhg tidying up and getting things ready for our next arrivals- Lindsey, Matt, Ira and Hannah were coming to Europe from New Brunswick for a couple of weeks and visiting us as their first stop.

Caitlin and Phil leaving for he airport. It was only a short stay but it was great to have them here. Paddy had the bright idea, just the week before, of staying with us in Mons for about 6 weeks.

And lastly here's a wee video of Phil playing by the fire. Well, I tried, but for some reason it won't upload. Perhaps I'll try to add it on a post of its own later.
It was lovely... with family, staring at the fire, watching my wonderful husband tend the fire(or play with it), swinging in the hammock and cuddling my 2 year old, and all the while listening to the sound of Phil and his guitar. A sound so familiar and beautiful- and every time he plays these days I feel like it's both tying me to the past and pushing me to look forward- it gives me butterflies thinking about the future, and all the music and family and good times we have ahead of us... I know, I know, I've been talking and thinking about and stressing the need to just live in the present, every day, but there's no harm in a little happy remembering of the past and hopeful thoughts of the future now and then.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Here come the veggies

We had a quick look around the veggie patch after work today and the plants are starting to fruit. It's nice to know that we'll get something after all the hard work. Although we have a few small issues to sort out like a rogue mole, soil nutrients, mulch and weeding... we're getting there. Here are some pictures of the inbound produce (cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, courgette, maize, squash and beans).

Back Into The Air

This post is slightly overdue but I'm still excited about the thought of getting back into the air. We've been in Belgium for a year now and I really miss flying with the CF. Although I enjoy being a classroom based instructor, flying an imitation mahogany press wood bomber blows. So, a couple of months ago, we all stopped by the Tournai Air Club (TAC) to check it out. Before I knew it, I had the chance to go for a flight.

Another nice aspect of TAC is the family friendly atmosphere. There is a little play park by the club house and the members are more than happy to have the kids down by the launch point. Siobhan also found some walking trails around a small nature area. As for Brendan, he was very interested in the gliders and all the different parts.

This is me getting ready to take-off with Steph. This was his 900th flight. He is in a similar situation where he has a young family and is trying to juggle home life and gliding.

This is me after my flight carrying two tired boys back to the car. It's really nice to get back up in the air. On the way home, we stopped off for a pizza and croque monsieur lunch at a nearby pub followed by a quick detour to a parachute drop-zone to inquire about tandem jumps and lessons. Hmmmm, maybe someday soon......

Here are two videos from my flight. Steph did the take-off because it has been over 6 years since I last flew a glider but he did let me land the glider. Not bad for my first landing since 2005. Don't mind the comments from the peanut gallery about my landing. Okay, maybe it was a small bump on touchdown.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

London for the night

We went to London last week for Rosaleen and Andrew's 50th birthday party. It was a long way to go just for the night and we were totally exhausted when we got home but it was well worth it to spend the night with family. We didn't actually get any pictures at the party, champagne in one hand, nibbles in the other and eyes on the boys! But here are a few photos from the day.

This little inner city park was not far from the flat so we had a picnic lunch and a long play to tire them out before getting back in the car.
Breakfast at The Honest Sausage in Regent's Park.

Folkestone Beach.

That is the water balanced funicular in the background- we went up and down.
Fish and chips on the beach. It's all the more special when it's such a rare occurrence.

And here are photos of mummy and daddy taken by Brendan. He's quite into taking pictures- I'm collecting a bunch to do a separate post soon.

Combat de Doudou 2011

Today (this has been sitting in the drafts for a while) was the Ducasse de Mons, a popular festival which is spread over a week. Two of the main events are a 'BIG' procession through the streets of Mons followed by the Lumecon, also know as the Combat de Doudou.

My buddy Dave and I decided that we didn't want to miss out on this year's Combat which is a well choreographed spectacle of several characters, including Saint George representing good and the Dragon representing evil.

(The characters from a t-shirt produce by a local radio station)

Before it kicked off, one person described it as a "Fete de Passion" for Mons. And that it was..... organized chaos. So there we were, squished, cramped, stepped on, elbowed, you name it.

(That's me 2-back from the rope)

Although it sounds rough, it wasn't that bad. Everyone looks out for each other so if one falls or gets hurt, the crowd does take care of them. The main prize of the event is to grab the tail of the dragon when it is launched into the crowd and pull a good tuft of horse hair off as a token of good luck. I missed out but Dave grab more than enough for the two of us when the tail landed just beside him, careening into a bloke's head who dropped like a sack of flour..

So all said and done, we watched the procession, had a couple of beers, fought the dragon, had a couple of coffees, a few more beers and a good portion of chips.

Here's a link which shows the atmosphere of the precession and the Combat de Doudou. So... after watching it... if you want to join us for next years Combat de Doudou, give us a call. Open door for family & friends, bed & breakfast included.

When I got home, I found out that Siobhan and the boys came to check it out after they went to a new wooded area. We didn't see each other but at one point, when comparing pictures, we couldn't have been more than 15-20 feet away from each other. By the sound of it, they enjoyed the atmosphere of the Grand Place as well.

Siobhan- I had planned not to go, having been told by many people that it's really crowded and that they wouldn't take their kids there. So we went to explore in some woods we hadn't been to before instead. But on the way back home we had to go around a bit of the inner ring road in Mons and there were hundreds of people walking towards the Grand Place. I could feel the excited atmosphere from the car and decided we couldn't NOT go to the festival. This is after all Mons's biggest and most important festival day of the year and I figured we shouldn't miss it. We squeezed the car into a tiny space between a tree and a bin (there were cars parked in every spare inch of space) and walked into town with Tadhg in the buggy. Taking the buggy turned out to be a good idea because when we got stuck in the crowd the buggy actually gave us some breathing room and kept Tadhg safe from all the people. We stood in a spot with a good view of the big screen showing live footage of the proceedings, but didn't actually see anything else. In fact we didn't see the screen very well either- there are a lot of very tall Belgian men out there and I think half of them stood between as and the screen- and they also had umbrellas which were put up and taken down twice for passing rain showers. It didn't matter though, the atmosphere was super. Not that I understood much, particularly the religious aspect of the day- Belgium does all this odd religious celebratory stuff really well. Weird costumes and beer. Lots of beer. And the horse hairs? What's that all about? But as men (mostly), with tattered and torn t-shirts and soaked in sweat, came away from the Combat they handed out spare dragon tail hairs to people further back- the boys were handed about 10 each by different people. I think, that by the end of it all, most people in the that square probably had a dragon hair to take home to ensure good luck for the following year. So strange and wonderful but I love the fact that they love it. Watch out for notes on the Ommegang coming soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Radical Dude!

Well, I got home from work today and Siobhan suggested that Brendan and I head outside to go for a walk or bike ride while she picked up Tadhg. After a quick discussion, Brendan decided that he wanted to go to the little woods with the hills by the St Symphorien Military Cemetery. I had been to the cemetery with Tadhg a few months back but not the woods. Once we got in there, it became obvious that kids use it as a little BMX track. With dips, humps, over hanging trees and an old well (we think), what little boy wouldn't love this place.

Before I knew it, Brendan was wazzing around the little circuit. "Dad, I'm gonna go straight" and "Dad, I'm gonna turn down there".

Here he is after a small wipe out.... BUMMER! Oh ya, he's wearing pajamas's because he wanted a 'pajama day' once he got back from school.

The goofy hero shot.

And... the 'piece de resistance', the on board camera, or should I say my iPhone, which I jury rigged.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A week outside

Sorry for another post about the garden, but that is pretty much what our life is all about these days. We wouldn't want it any other way at the moment!

We went for it! We cleared a small area of the nettle field to make our own little productive vegetable field. Our neighbours on both sides have each unofficially extended their gardens to use about another five metres or so of this field. Maurice, who grows pumpkins and has a beautiful big bramble bush out there, says that the farmer who owns it hasn't been in it in the ten years since they built their house next door. There is, of course, a slight chance that a tractor will roll in one day and we'll lose all our veggies but we're happy to take that risk for now.

We rented a rotor tiller and got stuck in removing the layers of nettle stems and roots and turning the earth. We also had to remove a nasty patch of stinky yucky stuff where the last tenants (and Steve more recently) had dumped the grass clippings and never turned them. Euch. Steve also came across a small wasp nest and promptly burnt it. He was lucky I was inside at the time or I might have wanted to try to move it. Maybe not a good idea, I don't know.
Friday evening and most of Saturday were spent out there. It was hard work but well worth it and it felt great! We've ended up with a beautiful patch of gorgeous crumbly earth.

watching Daddy

Early morning- Tadhg has his pjs on back to front to stop him taking them off. Slightly awkward stage just now- he doesn't want a nappy on but loves to find interesting places to pee, such as in his toy vehicles, on the sofa, on mummy's legs and feet from a standing position on a kitchen chair, right inside the back door for the next person in to slide in etc

lovely soil

Sunday morning meant a trip to the flower market for some lovely seedlings to put in here. We still aren't too late for seeds so some easy seeds were planted too. Here's Steve's view from his seat this afternoon. Planting was obviously my job!

I've been more aware recently of something. I think I wrote a while ago about the waldorf/steiner outdoor preschools where the whole idea is for adults to be engaged in meaningful work while the children just play around about and watch or join in to "help" when they feel like it. I've also read The Continuum Concept again recently and love that it validates so much of our parenting that comes naturally to us anyway. But, even without the reading, I catch myself stopping now and then and noticing that we are having a perfect day. I just stand and savour it for a minute. I realise that the reason this or that particular afternoon or day is going so well is that I've hardly interfered with the boys at all. As long as we've all had enough sleep and enough water to drink, then, if I just get on with something productive, the boys can go hours without a squabble or any need for me to interfere. I love it. The minute they sense that we are watching or listening then things go pear shaped and they start doing very annoying things like whining (arrghhhhhhhh), pinching and pushing each other, snatching stuff or, Brendan's latest, telling on each other. I could do without all of that!

A salad made from some of our own greens and radishes. Can't wait for cucumbers and tomatoes too.

And below are two photos of the boys, just because. These were taken at Paradisio last week.

Enough for now. More of the same coming up this week. I'm sure there will be more "after" shots of our "field" and the chickens have moved outside permanently now too. Must report on that!