:: tribe ::

Somehow, spring finally had the chance to show her beautiful face. And last weekend we enjoyed it to the fullest with a family trip to Zeeland, that little piece of paradise just across our border. To be honest, I was nog sure if I would survive the whole packing-for-two-nights with the lack of sleep we’ve been having lately and the grumpy, clingy toddler that comes with it (and when she’s not, she is in overdrive completely). But I did. We’ve payed quite a lot, but had the best weekend with the complete family: my gran, my parents, aunts, uncles, my siblings, alle the cousins, nephews, nieces,…

We had a blast! I came back so energized, feeling so connected and part of a tribe that only now I realize how much I actually need that feeling. I love how relaxed my family is, how everyone is looking after everyone, how the kids naturally mix and connect even if they see each other only twice a year. Always someone to hang out with, to play with, to give you a drink, a sweet, whatever you’d like at the moment. My youngest had a hard time coming back and having to do with a lot less attention, space to run around (and people wawing her dress of course). My oldest found his personal hero and best friend in one of my nephews who is a few years older, but they clicked instantly and now he’s already asking if his new best friend can come over. My heart sings with joy and gratefulness.

It was a very simple weekend, not an extended one, so Monday felt rather stingy. I love my job and my collegues, but no, no tribe there. Luckily there are a few short weeks ahead of us, and then it’s the last run before the final exams, so we’ll manage to struggle through. I’ve had it with this school year already. The good news: only one year of working fulltime ahead of me. Then I switch to teaching less hours for as long as possible. It should give me the opportunity to get more work done at school and leaving out some of the stress that comes from thinking about all I have to prepare for the next day once the children are in bed. I hope that will bring some much needed calm.

Hike – Moulin du Bayehon (Longfaye)

Sometimes, my husband has great ideas. Not very well thought through, sticking to a concept and waiting for me to work it out (or waiting until the very last minute because I refuse to), but great ideas anyway. Yesterday he took a day off, because he wanted to go for a hike. Weather forecast was rather ugly, he had no idea of where to go, our Little Boy has no hiking shoes, only boots (which are nice in the mud, but not very good for climbing rockes), and he decided the minute before we left, we should take a picnic. So I was rather grumpy, making sandwiches while a bouncing little kid couldn’t wait for us to pack everything.

Finally we left. We had decided on a hiking spot (I found someone who described the exact hike we did and took even better pictures), and said to each other we would walk for an hour to see how far we were and to turn if necessary. It was a 90-minute drive there, and I had estimated we would only be able to walk for two hours without Little Boy getting completely annoyed and crying and wanting us to carry him. It meant we would be in the car for longer then we were outside. Oh well. Sometimes my husband and his ideas…


The closer we got though, the more I was looking forward to it. Little Boy was extremely sweet in the car, entertaining himself with a few toys we had packed for him. Landscapes were gorgeous. Sun was shining. Traffic was smooth. It felt like we were on holiday.

Once there, the hikes were very well indicated, there were only a few people on the road and after only five minutes we got to cross al little stream, using a wooden bridge alongside the rocks. Little Boy was sold on the spot and hiked his guts out, splattering through the little streams of rain water on the path, impatiently going for the next bridge and super excited to see that after a while the road would climb and the path became rocky. Problem is, the kid always wants to go first and sometimes that was just not safe. He often tripped too, mostly because he was running or preferring to stand on the most impossible stones he could fid. We had a blast and walked for three hours.


His father was, in the meantime, getting completely warmed up to the idea of having a hot chocolate and a crepe after the hike. To his huge disappointment, all Little Boy wanted to do was  get in the car. Even the promise of chocolate wouldn’t help. Poor husband… devastated! I promised him we would all think of it as a funny story in a few years.

Actually, in my opinion, it already is.

Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)

tomato to prevent peeling skin sunburn
But trust me on the sunscreen – Baz Luhrmann

This is the story about why my husband chased me to the other side of the huge three person kingsize bed when we were on our first far-away trip to Costa Rica. You would think it would be full of romance and joy and passionate nights. It was. And then it was not.

Because I really suck at scuba diving. Really, I blame it on that. No elegant ‘just show the scuba tube’ thing for me. Some parts of me are simply unable to stay under water. Yes, my dear. I have a floating butt. And with a floating butt, you can put on sunscreen all you want, you’ll get sunburnt. As hell. As the brightest red you’ve ever seen.

You’d be surprised how much you need your derrière. To sit, for example. It was the reason why we paid for a comfortable taxi instead of taking a bumpy boat trip to our next location. Because my dear lord, sitting was highly painful. Even walking was, as there is quite some skin attached to the upper back legs, that had decided not to stay under too. Some solidarity issue that I could not really appreciate. But after a day of rest, we took a slow walk in the woods nearby, with a guide that spoke a lovely, slow kind of Spanish and had the opinion that the slower you walk, the more you can see. And Costa Rica is not the place to be running around. Maybe he just said it out of compassion, but it he made his point. We saw so many gorgeous things on that walk. That guy managed to keep my husband happy and I actually enjoyed the hike.

And then the itching started. And the peeling skin. I went to a local pharmacist who sold me the strongest after sun he had and gave me some zinc powder to help with the itching. Local people told me to put ripe tomatoes on it to prevent the peeling skin. The after sun helped for a few minutes, the zinc got me through the night and there was peeling, but I honestly think the tomatoes saved my skin. At least a part of it, because that was why I was banned to the other side of a kingsize bed.

I survived. We survived. It’s a funny story. And I never get to swim again without being painfully aware of my butt.

What has been your worst sunburn ever?

Goodbye, my long, sweet summer holiday

Looking back on two fantastic months of freedom, I feel the need to celebrate them with a last post. Not that there were many others. Of all the things I wanted to do this summer, building this blog was one of many that I didn’t achieve. Apparently, the complete lack of daily routine cut heavily in the habit of writing. And once you start to write less, it’s hard to restart and write more. The great ‘less is more’ thing doesn’t work for writing habits. I knew that, but I carefully neglected that piece of information and stuffed it away somewhere in the dark cavities of my brain (insert tension-building music)


The first three weeks of summer were hard. Like in really hard. Nobody prepared me to the ‘entertain me and don’t you dare do any household chores’ phase Little Boy set in the moment his daycare closed for annual vacation. Add to that the interrupted nights, very early mornings, bad weather and a cranky husband (probably combined with a cranky me too)… it wasn’t a good mix, I can tell you.





Luckily, there was a great week in France, to make things better. Surrounded by my family, Little Boy got plenty of attention, and I finally got some rest. Gorgeous weather and a cousin of the same age made for a happy Little Boy and happy parents.


Going back to daycare afterwards was a bit harder, but the structure and routine were very beneficial to everyone. Sleeping got better, the mornings were still very early though. I tried to get some things done, my husband had a hard time going back to work as he enjoyed the time away very fondly.


But another trip was on our agenda. We rented an apartment at the Belgian coast, for the traditional vacation with my family in law. It was the first time we didn’t actually share a space with them, but to me it was for the best. It meant a lot of quarreling between me and my husband though, which surprised me. In my eyes, had absolutely wanted his son to play at the shore and make long walks and stuff, but missed out the whole morning by sleeping in and letting me do everything. In his eyes, he was finally catching up on some sleep (this made me a bit angry, as he never ever gets out of bed in the middle of the night, nor in the morning – so if there’s a person with a lack of sleep in this house, it would be me) and having vacation. Oh well, things turned out fine in the end and luckily Little Boy had a great week nevertheless. Seems he just loves the sea, playing in the sand and running in the water. He changed his rhythm immediately: long naps at noon and early in bed (by seven). At the end of the week he even slept in! It made for a completely different kid.


Back home, I would start to prepare for school and Little Boy continued his routine at daycare. He’s an easy-going child, and for now he’s very open to people, even if he’s somewhat shy in the beginning. He likes to laugh and to play outside. He eats like a construction worker. His father and I are doing better too, with less nagging all the time. I hope it lasts, because we both were turning into persons we didn’t want to be. Sometimes I ask myself why we tend to get out the worst in each other instead of the best, while basically it’s all about the mind set. Stuff to think about.


There is a lot on my list of unaccomplished things (Project Life, weed through my home office, go completely digital, attack the attic monster, make regular visits to the zoo,…) but I enjoyed many other things: library trips, watching my son develop his love for vehicles, visiting friends and family, beach time, long walks and bicycle rides, reinventing breakfast, introducing smoothies, baking my first successful batch of muffins, staying awake for at least half a movie to enjoy with my husband, reintroduce complete nonsensical fun and laugh about it.


It was a good summer, in which I learned a not. Am I well-rested? Not really. Full of energy? Surprisingly: yes. Ready for a new school year? Bring it on. I’ll eat it raw!


How do you feel to restart after a long period of rest?

Flashes from France

  • It’s a six hour drive. Little Boy did great, but six hours is enough. Any longer drives to further destinations will be done probably at night.


  • My parents rented the house for three weeks. We went the first week, and arrived just after my brother and his partner. My father has a thing for his rental homes: he has to be able to walk around them and it has to be in a quiet place. Well, it was quiet. Really quiet. At the very end of the smallest village, with a private lane of 800 meters and surrounded by cows, you could barely choose anything quieter. It’s surprising to discover the sound of silence again, and realize that you haven’t actually heard it in years.


  • It felt really good when everybody started to arrive. My parents came in the next day, and my sister, her son and the girlfriend of my other brother shortly after. I cooked a great meal on a beautiful stove. Really, if there was the slightest possibility I would have taken that thing home with me. And it was nice to see how my mother enjoyed to not having to cook (she’s an excellent cook, but after a long drive, just getting served is the way to go).


  • It was hot. And sunny. And quiet. And lovely. And Little Boy enjoyed each and every minute. He played with all the family members, made up a name for his cousin (only two months older then him) and while they hardly could play together, always wanting the exact same toy, they constantly looked for each others company. Sweet!



  • Having a week with my family was refreshing, even for my husband. He had a hard time going home and even wondered if he hadn’t made the wrong decision by choosing to live near his family instead of mine. We played games, talked a lot, he even took a walk with Little Boy and my parents alone. I could really see how he bonded with his son, and how LB adores his father. He even cried on the way home, that he wish he could see LB more often after work and connect during weekends instead of feeling the pressure to constantly do things around the house. It’s his character, but I hope some of that urge will stick somehow, even in the rat race he’s in.


  • I love French food. The supermarket meat was the best I ever tasted. It all looked dark, but it was great meat, with great flavor and not half water. And the artichokes just taste best in France, with my mother’s vinaigrette inventions on the side.


  • How could we be near a zoo and not visit it? Of course we did, and we had so much fun!



  • On the last day, my husband and I jumped on the occasion to do some wine tasting in the neighborhood. We loved the warm welcome of a very local vigneron, who had chosen to do everything the traditional way and using ecological methods. I love wine tastings, even though I don’t like wine. I’ve learned to smell really well and to describe what I smell, and often I’m able to guess what my husband will love. And I must say: I smelled some lovely wines. Not the cheapest (for those we went a few blocks further and even though they had good wines, it’s nothing compared to the rich, mineral smells I got with the first man) but boy, they will be great!


Because life is so hectic right now and I do have an old blog somewhere that I’m totally neglecting, I decided to recycle one of those posts today.

The summer I was pregnant with Little Boy, we went to France. France is one of my all-time favourite countries. I speak the language, and there are just so many different regions, with different things to see. I could spend my life traveling France! A few years ago, my husband and I took the car and just left towards the coast of Normandy. This summer we decided to pick up where we left off and do the northern coast of Brittany. I remembered some beautiful landscapes when I was a kid and stayed there with my parents, and I was convinced it would enchant my husband.


At first, not so. You see, the coastline there was protected and made reachable mainly for hikers. While that’s a very good thing, because the landscapes are wide and authentic, a bit rough and just stunning, when you’re travelling by car, there are easier places to visit. Luckily, there are good maps with view points indicated, and the hiking trail along the coastline is easy to find, and easy to follow for those who want to do a few kilometers. There are only a few places covered with tourists, and everywhere else, you feel like you’re at the end of the world, all alone, and it’s just heaven.



I liked the Emerald coast best, which was basically the first part of the trip. But my husband got blown away only when we reached the Pink Granite coast. It’s so different!


We decided to focus on the coastline, which meant mainly nature and sea and quiet beaches covered in stones. We ate baguettes with boursin, tons of pistacchios, slept in beautiful chambres d’hôte and always had a nice meal in the evening at little local restaurants. Life can be good and simple like that.


We visited a sea-life center (because we like those) and a zoo (again, one of our little weaknesses), kept enjoying amazing sea-views, and on our way back home, we chose to drive through the woody part of the region, where we encountered several ‘enclos paroissiaux’, very specific settings of a little church, ossuary and cross, all tied together by a stone wall. We hadn’t expected those and were happy to find them. We imagined how life would’ve been at the time when everything seemed centered around those little places.


We came back happy and well-rested. And I was already dreaming of future visits, with a little child, discovering other regions, starting just across the border and going more south once the he’ll be getting older…

You know the nice thing about this post? Little Boy already has been to France. My parents still rent a house each year in a different region and we’re all invited to spend a week or so there together. Last year it has been Picardy, this summer the Loire valley it will be! I’m really looking forward to it.