Tuesday, February 21, 2012

feels like spring...

...inside at least!
Had some fun with the camera this morning- the house was looking lovely and bright and springlike in the sunshine.

Could he get that armchair any closer to the tv? (I hadn't noticed- too busy playing with camera settings and angles)
A corner of our kitchen- just some of the distant friends we miss. And my weekly planning whiteboard. (Looks more organised than I really am)
Le soleil brille. A new verb learned in my french class last week :)
Tadhg helping himself to Brendan's post art camp lunch. A second lunch is never a problem a Tadhg.

Monday, February 13, 2012

arty pants

This is just a  fraction of the art produced by Brendan in the last 6 weeks or so. 
If you take a walk around our house you'll see a few more piles here and there and bits of paper stuck to walls and doors and fridges. We're running out of wall space :) 

Some highlights and favourite subjects have included...
  • his "play" of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which consists of about 8 "scenes" elaborately drawn by him with words dictated to mummy. The whole process took a couple of days and hours of movie watching!
  • a shield made completely alone with cardboard, a drinking straw and copious amounts of cellotape.
  • Stories in his story book, with pictures and usually involving a rescue of some sort.
  • the sketch drawn "in the field" of the vehicles working on our road.
  • pirate island maps, each one becoming more detailed
  • ocean and the octonauts, diggers and aircraft, rainbows and butterflies, people with fingers and toes


writing whenever the mood strikes
Making the most of an afternoon without Tadhg to get out all the paints.
cities and rescue centres created with lego

lego vehicles

drawing out and about

taking drawing stuff out with us

Imagination... climbing the giant's mountain.
There is so much more he manages to do that I haven't shown here. 
I do worry about not giving him enough time to just do this stuff, at his own pace and when he feels like it. It sometimes breaks my heart when I take him away from some project or other to go somewhere or do something. But when I see it all together like this I think it's ok to stop worrying. He's managing to fit all this creativity into his days and I think he's doing just fine. 

I've just registered him for his first organised activity. Next week is the Carnaval week off school and Brendan will be doing an art camp- 3 hours a day for 5 days. I'm not sure exactly what they will be doing (all the info was in french) but it said maximum 6 in the class and they have to bring painting clothes including old shoes that can get messy. Lots of big painting I think. 
Fingers crossed he likes it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

warming up and refueling

It has stayed below freezing pretty much all week, so when we come in from the cold it's often to the tune of "hot chocolate, hot chocolate!"

And below are a couple of pictures I took when we had one of our favourite dinners... an indoor picnic complete with crackers and cheese, our own chutney, pita bread, boiled eggs from our own hens, lots of fruit and avocado... yummy. And this particular one we had in front of an old James Bond film that was on the telly. The boys loved the long ski and car chases (and the fighting) but consequently Brendan then became James Bond for a couple of days which was a little difficult to deal with :) The skiing was cool though. Steve and I were getting excited about our upcoming ski trip to Norway!

Notice Brendan is working on something arty in both of these two pictures, as is often the case these days. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beautiful Belgium...

...not words I put together often. Wonderful snow, thank you! I love the way snow makes even the dullest, grey and drizzly landscape look bright and cheerful. Here are a few photos taken yesterday on two separate walks. First just Siobhan and Tadhg with the mini camera.
I took a few photos blind- the bright reflected sunlight meant I couldn't see the screen or focus and was wishing I had a proper camera with viewfinder. So later when Steve suggested I head out on my own while the boys watched a movie, I grabbed the big camera and swung by my newest wonderful friend's house to pick her up before going for an invigorating walk. Of course, we were chatting non-stop so I hardly took any photos, but here are the few I took.

After coming down from the hill we dropped in on another super friend in our neighbourhood and were welcomed in to a warm house. I promptly appropriated her month old baby and spent an hour happily cuddling a warm bundle of loveliness. We dragged it out as long as we could get away with before heading home to our crazy households and rejoining the hustle and bustle.

First (only?) snowfall

Thumbs up for the first snowfall. Yayyy!

And given the low temperatures I was feeling bad for the chickens so I kept cooking up warm treats for them. Porridge or scrambled eggs with veggie scraps mixed in. I love mixing up meals for chickens- a bit of 3 year old fun.

Our heating also decided to break on Friday when the temperature outside was a lovely -16C during the day. Coincidence only- it was an internal part on the boiler and wasn't due to the low temperatures- unlike two sets of friends whose pipes froze and started spitting the toilet contents back out the way they had gone in. Poor things.
So we played outside in the snow and then wrapped up warmly, shut doors and curtains to keep the warmth in and then swapped beds to sleep one big person with one little person. The landlord tried and failed to fix the heating so we got up in the morning to a freezing house. One's of life's simple little adventures :)
Brendan "writing messages" on the radiator as we wait to pay before leaving. 
Pain au chocolate as big as my head? No problem.

We headed to our favourite breakfast place, arriving as it opened to find that it hadn't heated up yet, so we kept our warm clothes on while eating eggs, toast and croissants and drinking hot chocolate, coffee and hot ginger apple juice. Brendan pinched a pile of little notelets from the waiter and spent time writing messages and drawing wee pictures, when he wasn't running around the cafe with his brother, that is.

The day was then bright and sunny and photos from a walkabout deserve a blog post of their own:) Oh, and the heating was fixed that afternoon so we didn't lose any fingers or toes, which pleased Brendan given his fear of frostbite. I'd like to say it is an irrational fear but unfortunately I'm to blame... Last week we found ourselves looking at gruesome photos online of frost bitten fingers and toes. This is just one example of my increased use of scare tactics to encourage obedience, in this case keeping gloves on when it's -10C outside! Not proud of this but occasionally these things just come out of my mouth before I can stop them :)  When Brendan started the car last week I said some scary things about car crashes. We won't be looking for pictures or you tube clips of those, that's for sure.

Having trouble with the new blogger update and can't work out how to get the photos where I want them- so this will do for now. Lovely snowy photos coming next.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A new place to walk

Our lovely new friends took us to some woods for a walk a couple of weeks ago. It's just a 20 minute drive away and impressed me so much that we've already been back three times. None of these photos show it, but the thing I love about this patch of woods is that there is quite a bit of up and down. This part of Belgium is pretty much flat and treeless. And given the miserable shape of its climate graph with its 360 days of rain or whatever it is (will look that up for real sometime) it makes for one dull and dreary landscape. Gosh, that's all a bit harsh- it's a grey, rainy day as I write this and I think it's affecting my attitude. Sorry Belgium :)
 Anyway, so there's a bit of topography in this here wood. Not a lot but plenty for a 3 and 5 year old to get some fun out of. And their parents. Some of the trails meander along the bottom of little gorges. I'm making guesses about what is natural (spotted sandstone, sandy soil and clay) and what is man made (a bit of quarrying and a horse racing track?) We have lots of exploring to do. There's a swampy area and, for a change, many different tree species instead of the more usual soul-destroying monoculture.

Lots to learn about and discover. A bit of vegetation succession, with a helping hand (above)and collecting leaves and twigs and other nature finds (below). Using his hat as a collecting pouch was his idea.
We discovered this place in January and have talked about observing closely as the seasons change and I'll probably look up the geology and history at some point. Perhaps we'll revive (again) our Forest Friday tradition and try to head to the woods every friday after lunch. Or Woods Wednesday. And with a picnic if it's nice. And some friends when they can come 

I just looked it up and found a figure of 140 days of rain per year, on average, across Belgium. It feels like more. It's -8C today. I won't complain about the sunny skies but a bit of snow would be lovely for the boys. 
 So we're looking forward to more nature adventures out here as the days get warmer. We also have another park/forest to find and explore that some different friends have told us about.