Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Picture Dump

My preshus baby is home, so I'm not going to waste any time with dumb old writing until he leaves for Amsterdam tomorrow (NYE in Amsterdam with friends-what could go wrong?), but here's a little of what we've been doing:
This damn dog has not left his side, nor would he let anyone else hug him when he walked in the door.

Merry Christmas, blurry iPad photo!


Of course.

Fighting over the last of the Christmas Market garlic mushrooms.

It cost 30 euros to see this 'Authentic American Santa'. Photo not included.
We were all a little scared of this guy. I think we interrupted his mulled wine session.

Another ride on the giant wheel.

Grace is in the red coat. It was near impossible to get a shot of Jack skating with the girls while they were all three vertical.

I call this photo, "Indignity"

Worst Christmas Eve presents of all time?

More of Manekin Pis so Jack could see it. This time with an outfit!


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This is how we ride the metro..

Santa brought me a new knife. I haven't cut all my fingers yet.

World's tiniest snowman.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Brussels Christmas Market

We went somewhere awesome last weekend, but then our stuff came and there was all this stupid work to do. The movers unpacked everything, but basically there were just mounds of stuff everywhere. One of the few good things about moving every few years is that you are forced to pare down to the essentials. Before we left Brazil I dropped about 2,000 lbs worth of crap from our HHE (Household Effects for you non-foreign service people), and we are still shedding our belongings as we put everything away. I tell the kids if it's not beautiful or useful to donate it or toss it, and to be ruthless. Also, I have 46 tank tops. 

In other news, everyone is adapting to life in Brussels pretty well. I'm still in the oh-my-god-why-did-we-join-the-foreign-service phase, but I'm hoping that changes. They sell four brands of truffle mayonnaise here, so signs point to yes on that front. Mitch went out and bought a car, but I haven't seen it yet because paperwork and diplomatic license plates and blahblahblah. Maybe by the new year we will have wheels? Fortunately, we don't really need a vehicle yet. It's so easy to hop on public transit and not worry about parking or wine driving. 

We took the tram to a christmas market last Saturday, and it was the shit. It was packed with people and vendors but everyone was in a good mood because of vin chaud (hot mulled wine), which at least half of the vendors sold for just a few euros. I liked this very much.

Place Sainte-Catherine was the name of the square where the market took place. St. Catherine is an old Catholic church, and we were able to go inside where Mitch and I regaled the children with stories of growing up Catholic.

On the other side of the church is the Christmas Market. 

Yes, we went on that big-ass Ferris Wheel. It was a great place to view Brussels, and it was super cheap. I'm looking at you, Great Seattle Wheel, you big dumb jerk.

The view from the wheel. Those white squares are all the vendor stalls.

I love going through the pictures after an outing. All the photos of buildings are taken by my architect husband and all the food and booze pics are mine.

The Archangel Michael is the patron saint of Brussels. Here he is slaying the black devil. Merry Christmas!

We hadn't learned about the vin chaud yet. Whoops!  

I love that they have student prices on booze shots.

No comment.

We want to go again when my preshus angel college boy gets here next week, because I forgot to buy stuff after all the vin chaud. Also, there is an ice skating rink around there somewhere that the girls want to try out. I did buy a pretty cool chess set and the kids bought Christmas presents for each other. It was a good day and nobody cried.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


One of my favorite things to do in a new place is go to art museums. You know, as long as there aren't any toddlers with me. Toddlers are assholes in museums. Anyway, my kids are rarely assholes anymore, so when the tram let us off in the wrong part of town (we were headed to The Grand Place, but more on that in a minute), and the Royal Museum of  Fine Arts was right in our face, we decided to go where the day took us. The kids were surprisingly really excited to see actual original famous paintings, They wanted to go to one of the other museums in the area after we had seen all of the Old Masters exhibit, but I have a knee situation and I was also was experiencing a lack-of-wine situation after seeing all those paintings of naked people with overflowing wine goblets.

At least they used coasters back in the 1600s! 
Big ones! Coasters, I mean.

We still didn't know where the tram was, so we hoofed it to the Grand Place. See that tall fancy building coming out of my head? That's where we were headed. The closer we got to the square, the thicker the streets got with tourists. I love how my kids continually remind me that a lot of people understand English here, and I'd better watch my mouth when I'm whining about my knee.

We finally got to the Grand Place, which is your basic town square surrounded by old-ass buildings. It's very touristy. Lots of chocolate shops and places to drink beer. You guys, the beer here is really good, but the extra-high alcohol content has a way of sneaking up on you. Anyway, I had beer instead of wine, as one does in Brussels. 

Well, that giant goblet of beer tasted delicious. Don't worry, we let the kids get hot chocolate, which also did not suck. Anyway, that beer tasted so good we decided to try another one. All the beer comes in different glasses here. I think that's so you remember that Brussels beer is the shit.

While we were drinking our beer and hot chocolate, we admired some buildings with fancy gold stuff (insert architectural term here-just because I'm married to an architect doesn't mean I know the terms, yo) on them. I would show you the photo I took of the kids with their hot chocolates, but it was all blurry and I wouldn't want to give the impression that I was drunk or anything.

Soon I thought it was time to sample all the some chocolates, because the beer had taken over my judgement. We sampled chocolate in every shop we went to. So, I'm sloshing around, woozily trying to not think about all the chocolate I had just consumed, when we happened upon one of the most famous chocolate shops IN THE WORLD. Mary is always on the top ten lists. The beer thought it would be a good idea to go in and try it.

I think that guy talking to my husband is a chocolate scientist or something, because he went into this long spiel about how amazing their chocolates are and how they are made using special blahblahblahbeer. The chocolatiers almost wrestled me to the ground when I snapped this photo. "One must not take pictures of the chocolates!" Don't look at these chocolates, you guys, because they are top secret and I don't want to wake up one morning with a chocolate mold of a horse's head in my bed.

I'm not gonna lie, they were fantastic. Also, the chocolatiers wore white gloves.

Since we were in full blown tourist mode, we decided to walk another few blocks to see Manneken Pis, which is one of Brussels' more famous landmarks. It's a statue of a little boy peeing. It's about 400 years old, and it was surprisingly tiny, considering how famous it is. Kind of like the Mona Lisa, but with pee.

For scale:

I mean, it's cute and all, and all the shops sell little replicas, but I'm probably good not seeing it again for the duration of this tour. We all agreed that the best part of our very long day was the museum.

Well, that is until we saw this: