Monday, January 17, 2011

In the words of the great Ozzy...."Mama, I'm coming Home"

Hayden-Not quite ready to leave Belgium...He wanted to stay.
The decision has been made and executed.  The 'old country' has been left behind, but not forgotten.  Brent dropped the children and I at the Brussels airport in the wee hours of the morning and was off to work.  He will join us in Arizona when business has been settled in Belgium.  It was a good thing that he dropped us off so early.  There was no waiting in the British Airlines line and we had a lot of luggage to move around and check.  (At least it seemed that way when you have your own luggage and that of your three children)

We made it through the security check-point with ease and settled in our not-so comfortable airport chairs.  We watched planes take-off and land, read and chatted a bit about the expectation of the life that awaited us.  It was almost time to board the plane for London, Heathrow when who do we see?  The mother of one of our good friends in Belgium, Scott and Sabine.  We had unknowingly booked the same flight to England and even more crazy, had each changed our assigned seats and chose those next to each other. It was a great serendipitous surprise.  Probably much to her dismay, we chatted the whole flight to England.  She had been staying with the Sturgges family for three weeks and was most likely looking for a peaceful flight home.

Upon our arrival in England, we said our goodbyes and off we went our separate ways, she for her home and I and the children for our plane across the Atlantic Ocean.  Once again we waited.  When it was time to leave, we filed onto the plane, found our seats, and settled in for the long flight "home".  We watched movies, read and tried to sleep in our confined arrangements.  After the 9+ hour flight, we were finally landing in America.  We followed the masses of people to retrieve our luggage and then entered the que for customs. We handed over our Belgium exit papers and with minimal effort and even less time, we were through.

Landing in Phoenix
On our way through the doors that separate foreign travel from everyone else, we saw a banner held by my parents. "Welcome Home Family"!!  We were home...for now.  The children and I would be staying in my parents basement until Brent came back to the USA and we figured out where we were going and what we were going to do.

We loaded up into two cars and made our way to the Banfield homestead in Mesa, Arizona.  My sister Bridget's children were anxiously awaiting their cousins arrival with a huge "Welcome Home Fishers" sign.  It was great to see the family again waiting with open arms, but I am missing my man and wondering, "What's next?"

Some needed Happy Attitude

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Freezing our Keesters Off

Yesterday the water in our house never would get hot.  This happened once
before and we were told there was just a "bubble" in the line.  So I thought it would just work out.  Right?  No.

The oil in our boiler is OUT.  That's right.  1700 euros in 4 months.  Gone.  We called today to see when we can get it filled.  Monday.  They were closing in 5 minutes.  SOL.  Yes, they close at noon on Saturday.  Of course they do.  So no heat, no hot water until Monday afternoon.  And it's less than 50 degrees F. outside in the middle of the day!

Somethings in Belgium I will definitely NOT miss!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Movie Night

We haven't been to a movie in over 6 months and tonight we broke that dry spell.  We went as a family to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

Interesting things of note:
  • The movie was in English (YEAH) and there were double subtitles flashing (Flemish and French)
  • There are assigned seats-we were told politely that we had taken someone's spot. (no really-they were so nice)
  • There was an intermission (like Gone with the Wind-have to check and see if the movie was like that in America)
  • The popcorn was already in the buckets-no loud popping noises and delicious smells wafting through the air.
  • It was a Saturday Night and the theater filled up eventually, but there weren't a ton of people waiting for other movies or long lines for that matter.
  • And why do they not shut the bathroom door.  Seriously.  If you know me you know I am not high on the propriety level, but come on people we came to see a different show.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Feeling Blue

    It all started the 8th of November.  The day before my 35th birthday.  I am not one who cared much when I turned 30.  Didn't phase me at all, but this year life seemed well, unbearable.

    I think that is when the cultural shock really took hold and just about suffocated life out of me.  I would look in the mirror and think, "Man, I look old.  Where did all this blasted gray hair come from?  And the wrinkles with zits.  Come on already.  Make up your mind...teenager or adult. Oh, and next year you should just be a cowgirl because you already have half of your costume, Ole Saddlebags!"

    This trip to Belgium has been such a romantic thought.  Who does this kind of thing.  Uproots her whole family, finds her cowgirl whip and cracks it behind her unwilling herd.  Giddyup.  Ok, that was just keeping with the saddlebag image.  It really consisted of 98%  bribery.  "Come on guys.  I will buy you Belgium chocolate EVERYDAY. You can choose a destination in Europe of your choice.  And on and on." (Feel free to add-lib here.  I'm sure it would fit perfectly)

    But back to November 8th.  Complete and total meltdown.  I had cried that morning.  Listened once again to the daily (probably justified) whining, which I hear every school day I might add.  "Oh, no.  Not school.  Mom we hate school.  We don't understand what they are saying.  We just sit there all day.  Don't make us go."  Today it really hit.  I dropped them off at there school with hugs and kisses and then drove the 40 minute commute to my French class.

    My usual route from Leuven to Overijse is really picturesque.  Through little provincial towns like Eiden, Huldenburg and Neerijse.  Next to century old churches and brick building with amazing character. There was a slight mist in the air and everything seemed dreamlike.  It was truly a gorgeous morning. But one thing.

    A constant gnawing feeling.  I couldn't place it.  I arrived at my teacher's house and entered the classroom and then he asked, "Quoi de neuf?"  It means: What's new?  And my reply...crying.  Uncontrollable, body shaking, ugly crying.  My friend Wendy gave me a hug and said, "Power through."  I sat for a total of maybe 5 minutes and then I excused myself.  I drove home blinded by my tears and tucked myself into bed.  I just thought that maybe I was tired.

    The next day was my birthday and I tried to rally.  Wendy took me to lunch and we had a good time walking the streets of Leuven.  My family and I went out for dinner and I cried right before I left.  No real reason that I can nail down.

    For the next month I would curl myself up into the fetal position and cry at least once a day.  To say I was hormonal is a HUGE understatement.  Call it what you will.  Depression. Case of the blues. Or plain old cultural shock.  Whatever it was, I never want to go back.  The closest I can think of was my post-postpartum depression mixed with the feeling of getting kicked in the gut.  Now that I think about it, maybe it was a lot like those dark days of years ago.  Anyways....

    December was here and I had done 0 shopping, 0 decorating, 0 baking and I didn't even care.  I finally bought a po-dunk Christmas tree at the local Carrefoure. (Walmart)  and some ornaments to paint.  We sat around the table that night painting our ornaments and something trivial was said and I was at it again. Crying and bed.  Crying and bed.

    I am not sure what brought me out of the black abyss or blues, but right before Shea's birthday of the 14th things started looking a little brighter.  Thank you Shea for being such a sweet girl and Logan for his smile and laugh and Hayden for his ability to talk your ear off.  (He really can.  I wonder where that shy, quite kid who hid behind my legs went.)  And a big thank you shout out to Brent who loves me still through it all.  Silver linings. :)


    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    A Visit from Sinterklass and his helper(s) Zwarte Piet

    Zwarte Piet/Pere Foutard
    ‘Twas the weekend before Sinterklass, when all through our house
    Quiet commotions were happening and perhaps even a mouse.
    Logan and Hayden were playing Monopoly with care,
    Both wondering who’s the ultimate tycoon, and who’s the spare?
    Brent was upstairs programming solutions to problems as usual,
    Probably wishing those bugs would disappear faster than his struedel!
    And Shea doing math and I sitting next to her workin',
    Had just decided it was time to get dinner a cookin'.
    When from down the street there arose such a clatter,
    Shea and I looked at each other and wondered what was the matter.
    We heard knocks on our window, laughter and voices,
    Singing and cheering and all sorts of happy noises.
    The doorbell then rang.  We got up to answer.
    Opening the door to five Zwarte Piet dancer-s.
    They were talking and smiling and we understood not one bit.
    “Ik spreek Engels” and they changed language in a Jiff.
    “Sinterklaas is coming, here’s a goody bag for you”
    Then I said, “Can I take a picture, maybe two?’
    They grabbed onto Hayden and held him in their arms.
    Logan and Shea stood in front, engrossed in the swarm.
    We grabbed our boots and jacket and ran to meet their St. Nick.
    He was sitting in a trailer…fully equipped.
    He asked if my children and been good that year.
    They answered a resounding “Yes!” and were of good cheer.
    He then turned to me and said, “Ma’am, how’ 'bout you?”
    I said, “Absolutely Not.”...And he knew it was true.
    “That’s alright by me.” He said with a wink and a smile,
    And then they were off after only a short while.
    A visit with Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet was just what we were needing.
    To lift our spirits on this snowy cold winter’s evening!


    Friday, December 3, 2010

    What's That you say?

    Hayden did some painting at school today. When we got home he was walking down the hallway.

    "Hayden, what is that on your butt?"  I said.
    "Ass paint." Hayden said.
    "What did you say?" I asked.
    He said, "That's paint."
    My old ears are playing tricks on me!

    But, both would be correct answers.  (And no, it doesn't come out!)

    "Pants a la mode"


    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Concert de l'Ecole

    Yesterday, Logan and Shea participated in a school singing concert.  Shea was totally excited and Logan was well, anxiety ridden.  Most of the songs were sung in French, or course.  They did sing one song in English.  It was Chim-Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins.  I think it might have been for our benefit, but who knows.  We don't know French well enough to ask!  There isn't really a hard CH sound in French, so the Chim sounded more like Shim-shimmanee.  When practicing for the concert, they asked Logan and Shea how to correctly pronounce the words.  Great way to get my kids a little more involved.

    The concert was held in a really old small town church.  It wasn't like any concert I have ever been too.  The school children would sing a few numbers and then this orchestra made up of young and older children would play a few pieces. The director of this "orchestra/choir" is a part of some major orchestra in Liege.  You can tell these people love what they are doing and wanted to be there.  It is such a big difference from the have too and guilt-ed into involvement I am so used to.

    At the end of the concert everyone kept clapping like they were asking for an encore....and one was given.  I am sure this is the norm.  It seemed like everyone knew what to do and we loved it.  So worth the money we spent to watch the performance.  (Shea front row middle; Logan top right back)