Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today vs Tomorrow

Today -> Last day of the summer holidays
Tomorrow -> Back to school

Pretty much how I feel today!

I think we are all happy to be going back to school. The kids will get back into a 'normal' routine and things will be a bit more structured at home.

Well, that is the plan.

Himself is out with them today, buying school supplies (last minute I know but what else is new) and some new school clothes. They have grown so much over the summer that nothing fits them anymore.

This year we (and I mean both me & Himself) are determined to be more involved. It's hard when you don't speak the same language as the other parents/kids at school. When you work full time and find the whole school system bizarre (you would think that since our kids have only ever gone to school here in Belgium we would be used to the difference there are between here & South Africa, but alas no, we still find it strange).

In fact Himself said to me that he'll become more involved this year which was music to my ears. Cause lets face it as much as he loves these kids getting involved in school/parent related activities is not his idea of fun. I'm thinking I should have recorded that promise for use in the future as and when it may be needed.

So tonight it's going to be the usual battle to get them to go to bed early despite their insistence that they are not tired.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to reality .... holiday update

Wow two whole weeks of holiday has gone by! I was saying to the kids on Sunday that I really didn't feel like going back to work and Tiger promptly asked me 'why not? You've had loads of holiday time!' This from a kid who is in the last throws of his 2 month summer holiday.

So what have we gotten up to during the past 2 weeks?

Week one

Himself was away on a business trip to Frankfurt so the kids and I were home alone. Since I never have time to clean my entire house from top to bottom (I'm a very bad housekeeper) I decided to enlist some help. I rang my mom and asked her if she felt like coming round to help me with the kids rooms. You know it's always nicer to have someone clean with you keeping you company and keeping you going. The rest of the day is a blur ... but the kids and I managed to pass it.

Tuesday my mom & dad arrived early and by early I mean just after 7:30 .... even the kids were still asleep. My dad has been working on a car (at our place since they live in the city and have no garage). So as soon as we all had coffee and the kids were up my mom & I started.

What a job!

We cleaned Tiger's room from top to bottom, sorting toys and clothes and washing and dusting ever last recess. The afternoon was spent on Cat's room.... and let me tell you my girl is a true collector and does not like to get rid of anything. (she get's that from her dad... okay and maybe from me as well).

Himself came back home briefly on Wednesday, long enough to pack a bag
 and then he left again, to drive to Romania (this is a 1769.69 km or 1099.67 mile trip). He was allowed into the country despite not having a visa (read about the visa saga) only the van is registered on my name and they wanted him to prove that I was his wife. He told them that he could show them some photo's (he had his camera with him) or that they could call me. They did neither. On the way back out they were difficult again so he told them that since they let him in they had to let him leave the country again.

My mom decided to sleep over and so we spent the rest of the week cleaning, washing windows and curtains and floors. My dad & I built 2 dog houses and 2 dog runs so the dogs at long last is now out of the house (during the day). I can not explain to you how happy I am about this.

Tiger on the other hand was seriously upset about the fact that Duke & Gus now have to be tied to their respective dog runs outside (it's a necessity since Duke and jump over all our fences and because the property is so big re-fencing is not an option). He called me a dog prisoner, and cruel and hateful and mean and cried and when he realized that none of this was going to make me change my mind he decided that he would run away.
He ran up to his room, packed a bag, came down stairs to where my mom & I were sorting the laundry and told me that if I did not let the dogs come back inside he was going to run away and go and live on the street. I told him fine cause the dogs are now going to stay outside whether he ran away from home or not. And so he left.

When he go to the gate he noticed that there was post in the post box which he then brought back to me. 3 Hours later I had convinced him that running away from home was not such a good idea (no bed, no food, no Wii, no dogs, and that the police would just bring him back home). Sent Cat out to the gate to get his bag and told him to unpack it. (it contained 2 t-shirts, a pair of socks a pair of sleeping shorts and his favourite hoodie).

Week two

Himself got back from Romania on Friday night (00:30-ish). After getting some sleep we left for Italy at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon.

Let me tell you the trip down could not have gone better. The kids were as good as gold! We have managed to lose the car charger for the portable DVD player so Cat had taken a book to read and Tiger some cars to play with. This is all they took. I was worried about them getting frustrated and bored but no, they slept and played and Cat sang to herself and the 12 hours just flew by. That is for them, I can tell you that Himself was pretty damn tired when we finally drove into Caorle.

The kids told us that we could sleep until 10 the next day. By 9:30 they could wait no longer and stormed into our room declaring that it was time to hit the beach. And so we did.

We spent roughly 5 hours on the beach every day. Just floating around enjoying the sun. The kids loved the fact that the sea was so calm and that they could walk and stand just about everywhere. We missed the waves, we are used to great big white waves that throw you around and knock you off your feet (sigh, Balito). But it was good.
Cat once asked me if he was single

To the kids dismay we also slept a lot! However, we quickly discovered that they were quite happy to watch Hannah Montana and SpongeBob in Italian. O and Cat was thrilled to catch a couple of episodes of Magnum.
(My daughter is in love with Tom Selleck).

We had lunch and dinner with friends and went out for drinks a couple of the evenings. And we ate gelato! and ate gelato and ate gelato!

It was hot and relaxing and everything a holiday should be.

O wait I forgot.

On the last day we took the kids down to the beach for one last swim. And they made a friend, an English speaking boy named Harry who had just arrived that morning with his mom. My kids being the shy and timid kids that they are immediately chatted him up finding out his life story and no doubt sharing ours (at one point I overheard Tiger say/brag to him that he had two passports). I said to Himself that I would go back to the apartment to start to clean up and pack our bags giving the kids a bit longer in the sea. It was all going well until, I stepped outside to get some shoes and the door closed behind me, With all the keys and phones inside!

There is no way of getting into this apartment without the key! We tried. The people who rent us the apartment lives 2 apartments away but they were not at home. Needless to say my darling husband was NOT amused! I walked into the village to see if they were at their shop but as custom the shop was closed (all the shops close between 12 and 5). I walked passed all the spots I could think of finding them, no luck. We couldn't call them, and for all we knew they were out on a boat (the had mentioned something like that the night before) and no one would be back before 5.

I was not popular with my family, unfairly I felt since really I could not help the door closing behind me unexpectedly. But it was hot and we had planned on leaving at around 15:00. And then they appeared, I had missed them in the village, they had gone to the beach looking for us. So after everyone had a good laugh the spare keys were fetched and we were back inside to finish the packing and cleaning.

We left at 16:00.

The trip back was nearly as good at the trip down. The kids were good as gold again (I really can not stress this enough we were amazed at how brilliant our kids behaved), only it rained for most of our trip through Switzerland and we had an hour long detour because a part of the highway was closed but we made it back to Alsemberg in 13 hours.

The weekend was spent in a haze of cleaning and doing laundry and sorting things out for coming back to work. The kids are also going back to school on Thursday so Himself will have to sort them out with clothes and school supplies this week.

Can't believe the summer is over, but there is always next summer to look forward to and we have big plans for next year. We are planning on going to Australia to visit some family and friends not seen for many years and today a dear friend sent me an email asking me if I would be interested in a girls trip to the Med. Yeah! Count me in!

Caorle Beach

The beach is super organized, you can rent 2 deck chairs and an umbrella to be used only by you during your stay

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Holidays

Just a quick update to tell you all that I'm on holiday .... meaning that I'm taking a 2 week break from blogging.
 I'll be back with lots of photo's of our trip to Italy.

Really looking forward to some hot summery days and relaxing on the beach.

Till then .... enjoy everything you do!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thomas O'Malley

So my dad sent me these photos of the picture frames and mirror that my mom found for me yesterday - I'm so excited about it! I know exactly where that mirror is going to go. I need to finish my quilt this weekend so I can start sanding and painting.

O and to get to Thomas O'Malley.

Thomas O'Malley the alley cat is our cat. Only in May when Himself & I went to Italy for a wedding O'Malley disappeared. A friend of ours stayed in our house to look after the kids and animals for us, she said that she saw him on Friday evening but not again .... and that was that he just never came home again.

That is until last night. I was doing the dishes when lo and behold O'Malley jumped up onto the little window cill. Just like that, as if the last time we saw him was yesterday morning. I'm really happy! I know it's a stupid thing to blog about and I do apologize for boring you to death but what can I say I'm just so thrilled to have my cat back.

Not our O'Malley but a look-alike

Thursday, August 11, 2011

'Dumpter Diving'

So my phone rings this morning and my mother is on the other end of the line, totally out of breath. My first reaction is to ask her what's wrong. Yeah I know I tend to expect bad things to happen more often than necessary.

Relief, nothing's wrong but she's phoning to tell me that she just found 2 awesome picture frames for me.

Out on her daily walk when she found them lying on a heap outside of someone's house. (in Belgium, about 4 times a year, you can throw out the things you no longer want but which are too big for your bin and the town council will pick it up and dispose of it for you, for free). The one is rather big which is why she was out of breath after carrying them home.

I've been looking for old picture frames which I want to sand down and re-paint. Only the one's I've been able to find have been really expensive, even when being sold at the local brocants. A brocant is the local version of a flea-market / antique market.

She tells me that she also so a lovely antique mirror in a frame lying there but couldn't carry all of it. Thrilled at the idea of getting not only 2 picture frames for free but a mirror as well I say that it would be great if she could go get the mirror for me as well. I did remember to tell her to take her little shopping trolley so she wouldn't have to carry the mirror all the way home.

'Good idea' she says 'I'll just first change my shirt so they don't realize it's the same lady who's come back for the mirror.'

Not my mother

2 hours later ....

I just rang her to hear if she managed to get the mirror.

Only just in time. By the time she got back they were just loading the last of the stuff onto the truck, the mirror was already on it. Not about to turn back empty handed she asked the workers if she could have the mirror.

One of the guys was clearly annoyed but another gladly obliged and told some of the workers to take it down. He even asked where she lived because if it wasn't too far away he could drop it off at home for her. Alas, since she lived about 3 km away it was too far. Never mind she had taken her little trolley and a piece of rope (good thing too cause it's quite big) and managed to get it home.

I'm dying to see it! I said she should take a photo of it and email it to me but she says that doing that is much harder than actually finding it and taking it home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trip down memory lane

You know how when you hear a certain song you always think of a  person or time in your life. Well last night we did just that. Himself was playing guitar and before long we were finding old songs on YouTube which reminded us of people. The cool thing is that Himself & I have known each other since we were 12 & 13 and had quite a few friends in common.

Here are just a few of the songs we listened to:

Boyz II Men - It's so hard to say goodbye --> Dean & Shaun
Chicago - You're the Inspiration --> High school / Kirsten
OMD --> High school /Kirsten
Def Leopard --> High school /Kirsten
Richard Marx - Right Here Waiting -- > Himself & Dean
Ace of Base - The Sign --> High school
Dr. Alban - It's my life --> High school
Dodgy - If you're thinking of me --> Candice
Live - Lightning crashes --> High school, rugby, hanging out
Crowded House - Private Universe -- (This song reminds Himself if me)
Sheryl Crow - If it makes you happy -- Himself, driving the 400 km to visit me every other weekend
Jon Secada - Just another day - Cousins Natalie & Glenda
OMC - How Bizarre (This song always reminds me of Himself, December 2006)
Inner Circle - Sweat (a la la long) - High school
Aerosmith - Living on the edge - Werner

So what are some of your old songs and memories?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A very quiet house

The kids had a sleep-over at my folks on Sunday night. Himself had two meetings on Monday and taking the kids along was just not an option and then his last meeting ran late so the kids stay over for an additional night.

When I phoned my mom this morning to check if she is still alive Cat answered the phone and asked me if I knew that she was not at home. Silly girl!

I must say the house was very quiet last night without the two of them. We have gotten so used to them storming into our room to tell us something (every 5 min) that I even got up a couple of times to check on the dog's who also were very quiet.

I also just had to attach you this photo. It's the runt of the litter sitting in one of the Stack-Cups. We were hoping that we would be able to fit at least three of them into the cups but all the other puppies are already too big.

Pint of Puppie anyone?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Music

In my frustration about the visa requirements I totally forgot that today is Monday ....
which means Monday Music!

I'm pretty sure that there are no songs about the frustration of dealing with automatic answering services and consulates today's music  will have to reflect the weather here in Belgium.

13 C or 56 F -> Overcast with a 60% chance of Rain
Just another summers day in Belgium

Have you ever seen the rain - Creedence Clear Water Revival

Rain - The Beatles

Grey Skies - Josh Kelley

PS. All music videos featured in this Blog can be found on youtube and is put here to reflect the mood & weather in Brussels today. I have not been asked to promote any of these albums / videos and have not been compensated  either. 

For English press 2 For useless information press 3

O my word! Why is it so hard for some consulates to sort themselves out? I mean, how hard can it possibly be to have an actual person who can answer basic questions like:
  • What are the visa requirements?
  • What does a visa cost
  • Can I down load the forms or complete them on-line?
It seems not!

Himself needs to go to Romania.
Himself still has a South African passport so travelling is still a bit tricky (he needs a visa for nearly every country under the sun). So he asked me to please just check out what their requirements would be for him etc.

No problem I thought I'll have it for you in no time...... NOT!

I google visa requirements for South Africans -> web page opens

Question - Nationality of applicant & country of residents
Answer - South Africa & Belgium
Requirement - Visa required 

I click on the visa required link only to go back to the 1st page .... what ? So I do it again, same result. Then I scroll down to find a phone number. Mmm 3 phone numbers for the Romanian Consulate in Belgium, 2 in Brussels & 1 in Antwerp.

I call the 1st number ..... Wrong number.
I call the 2nd number .... WRONG NUMBER .... I call the 3rd number .... WRONG NUMBER but they give me a different number.
I call the 4th number ..... This turns out to be a private cell phone number of a German speaking person WRONG NUMBER AGAIN!

Ok, I'll email them.

There are 2 email addresses so I send a quick mail to both, you know just to double my chances ..... DELIVERY FAILURE on both!

Then I decide to call the Embassy. Automated answering service ....
Press 2 for English.
Press 3 for Visa applications ......and this is what I'm told by the automated answering service:
  • Visa applications can be filed in person, between 9 and 12 every day.
  • To make an appointment to file your application please call between 5 & 6 on Monday's & Wednesdays.
  • For more information check out this website ........ (information is only available in French & Romanian). But I check it out only to find that they only mention that Belgian citizens, like all other EU member state citizens do not require a visa to enter Romania. Duh I know this, I need to find out about South Africans.
This is when I decide to call the Romanian consulate in South Africa. And low & behold it's an actual person who answers the phone!

My excitement was short lived.......

Lady:  'Uuuh how can I elp you?'
Me:     'Hello I'm calling to find out what the visa requirements are for a South African passport holder, would you be able to help me to put me through to someone who could?'
Lady:  'Uuugh I can elp. What you need know?'
Me:     'Well I need to know what the requirements are?'
Lady:  'Uuugh email us to make appointment to ask, ok? Abe a nice day'

Click she puts the phone down.

Right  please excuse me for now cause I need to find someone who will smuggle my husband in & out of Romania for a business meeting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How much do I love it?

How do I love it? Let me count the ways.
I love it in the morning mist, I love in the evening dust
I love it in the dark of night, I love it in the day time bright.
I love the endless hours I make use of it.
But alas not nearly enough time on my hands.


I really love all that can be found & read on the internet.
I have just realized today that I really need win the lottery so I can
spend my days doing all the things and making all the things I find
& totally adore on the internet.


Instead I'm sitting here in the office trying to stay off the internet.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Utterances of love ...

Tiger to me:
I love you!
How much do you love me?
I love you more than the dogs!
No wait I mean I love you almost as much as I love the dogs!

Cat to her grandparents in South Africa via Skype:
I love you till the mountains come tumbling down!

Myself to Himself:
I love you!
I also care for you deeply

Monday, August 1, 2011

So here is a quick summary of the past week in photo's:


In action

If only they could like each other this much all the time!

Funny faces ... as usual


The start of yet another race

Cat holding one of the new puppies

Tiger wearing Cat's dress .. he was too lazy to find a shirt

Lulu the proud mom with her new puppies - 8 of them.

Tiger wanted to sleep with the puppies

Cat managed to get a hole in 1

Jay eager to get started

Showing off our glow in the dark balls/noses --  black light mini golf

Alwasy a cool dude

Himself .. this is serious stuff

Friendly Hippo

Tiger & Jay ...Tough guys

I'm back!

I'm back!

Yip as you may or may not have noticed I've been very quite. The reason for this is that I was off at home. Now I know that most people would assume that being at home would mean that I would have more time to blog but alas that's not true.
Out of the 4 computers in our house only my laptop is in working order and despite it being my laptop I get very little time to use it. Also, I had other things to do, like hanging out with the kids and friends & Himself.

The weather was terrible but it was nice to have a break.

What did I fill my days with?
  • Playing with the kids
  • Reading
  • Cleaning the house
  • Laundry
  • Visited my parents
  • Mini-golf
  • Brunch with friends
  • Antiquing
  • Spent 4 hours building an Ikea chest of drawers (don't ask)!
  • BBQ (we finally saw the sun yesterday so we had to make the most of it)
And that's about it in a nutshell. I'll post some pictures of our mini-golf outing later. But for now it's back to work.