Crystal Ship Street Art Walking Tour

Crystal Ship Street Art Walking Tour

Crystal Ship Street Art Walking Tour

We were on a mission. With three kids during COVID in semi-lockdown in Belgium, an extra week of Easter ‘vacation’, and the vaccine roll-out going painfully slow. . . what were we to do? How could we entertain the kids while still being wary of social distancing rules? We’ve made our library visits a weekly occurrence. We’ve scootered/biked/walked all over town. We’ve done the museum-reservation-thing which is okay but my museum-savvy kids become a little reckless when they can’t interact with the exhibits. While the whole of Belgium flocked to the coast last weekend, temperatures turned colder and yesterday we

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Snow in Spa!

Snow in Spa!

With Belgium in lock-down, there are few options for entertainment during the Kerstvakantsie, but that didn’t bother us too much. After the complete and absolute mania of Christmas (and I was even prepared this year!) we spent a few days at home. Vinny took the kids and their scooters out to the neighborhood ‘square’, played a little soccer, and jump roped. In the meantime, we did a bit of a ‘throwback-to-March-2020-lockdown-routine’. I can’t say that staying at home with three kids is peaceful, (it’s not the gorgeous rainy-day postcard Norman Rockwell would have painted) but it was okay. I put

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Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.” – Linus Van Pelt, The Great Pumpkin 1966 Saturday evening, October 24, 2020. Our family had spent the afternoon underneath the flittering golden leaves of the Draakplaats. The restaurants and bars ringing the neighborhood square were shuttered, but the basketball court, playgound, and spaces-in-between were speckled with children. Vinny and I watched our children bike and rollerskate on the asphalt, their wheels slipping on the

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Hopelessly Devoted to You

Hopelessly Devoted to You

“I loved, loved, loved that movie. I mean, really. I was border-line obsessed. I’d watch it and then rewind it. And I’d play it again and again. Perhaps even four or five times in a row!” The sunlight is streaming through the panes of glass, golden rays darting between our organic ginger and mint teas. The last gasps of a beautiful Belgian summer are holding strong on this Tuesday morning. My friend continues, “I mean, Sandy. . . I thought she was just so beautiful,  so virginal with her beautiful blonde flipped hair. . . Sitting on the pavement at

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Life Love Hope

Life Love Hope

A festive vibe energizes the city. I’m on the number four headed towards the Nationale Bank stop. The passengers are filled with excitement despite the drizzle accumulating on the ancient tram windows. Darkness fell hours ago. I check my phone. 6:07 p.m. This is winter in Antwerp, days before Christmas. The tram eases to the stop. I descend the steps and walk on the glistening cobbles. The darts of moisture are in that in-between-stage, as any seasoned expat knows – it would be self-indulgent/wimpy to open an umbrella, but I left my hat at home. I glare at the rain

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Disney Castle

Disney Castle

Following my last post about a New Year’s Do-Over, I must admit that the real New Year’s Eve was fabulous (credit: The Husband). Following stops in Heidelberg and Austria, we head back west towards Germany on January 31st with a very important pit stop on the way to Munich. The fog drifts from the earth trapped in the belly of the Austrian mountains like a steamy bowl of cotton soup. We push our Volkswagon Touran through the water vapor until we start to climb. We weave our car along the breathtaking edge – the slope of the mountain stretching to

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Adventures in Austria

Adventures in Austria

I’m shivering in the shower, covered in shaving cream, and screaming to my six-year-old. “Holden! Holden! Where is Daddy?!? This is an emergency!!” Tears press at the back of my eyes. There’s worse things. There are. My hair is full of conditioner. The space heater in the corner of the bathroom is on full blast, but it can’t do anything to warm the ice-cold water spewing from the spout. I’ve turned it off five times in hopes that it reheated, only to be blasted with more melted snow. I try to calm myself. It’s not working. “Mama, he’s outside getting

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Return to Heidelberg

Return to Heidelberg

A flight over the ocean. An embrace by a colleague. A walk through the FRA terminal. A drive on a bus. A crumbling castle atop a hill. A flute player. A toss of a few coins. A view. A photo. A memory. The year was 2007. I was an American Airlines internal auditor. My job was to fly around the world, visit the different airports the airline operated in, and audit them. It was a very cool gig. Especially for an accountant. The team was small – we had five staff/senior auditors and a manager. I remember the first time

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Adventures of a 3-year old

Adventures of a 3-year old

“NO!!! NO!!! NO, MAMA!!!! I DON’T WANT TO GO OUTSIDE!!!” I shove one arm into my winter coat while grabbing a tiny leg with the other. There’s a loud thud and the half liters of German beer shake on the thick wooden table as I bonk my head – trying to escape from the dark cave with my treasure, my love, my third child. I emerge from its underbelly – squirming into the other half of my coat, wrestling my three year old, and dying of embarrassment. The low roar of the restaurant is no match for my precious angel’s

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Antwerp Christmas Market

Antwerp Christmas Market

When my family and I lived in the Netherlands, my husband and I used to get up on a Sunday, look at each other and say, “What should we do today?” If it wasn’t raining, the answer was often, “Let’s go to Belgium!” We drive and park and wander the streets of Antwerp admiring the architecture, the wide boulevards, visit the Bric-a-Brac market in Sint-Jansvliet and inevitably feast on a waffle from our favorite stand in the train station. We’d head back to Leiden before dark. We’ve visited Christmas markets in Brussels, Brugge, Paris, and Aachen. For some strange reason,

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