Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

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Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

Winter Wonders & Christmas Market

One of my family’s most favorite things to do and see is the Brussels Christmas market in the heart of the city.  We’ve spent the past three Christmases exploring the city and it never disappoints. This year we loaded up the front wheeled sleigh to partake in one of the most wonderful of Christmas traditions – the viewing of the lights and tree in Brussels’ Grand Place. The Grand Place has the most fantastic lights display. Last year the beautiful lights danced to a soundtrack from Belgian’s own Lost Frequencies, which was, inevitably, very cool. This year it’s SIA. The

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Antwerp Zoo China Lights

Antwerp Zoo China Lights

The first week my 5-year old son was enrolled in Belgian school, he went on a field trip to the Antwerp Zoo. “But Mama, we didn’t take the tram, we took a school bus,” he jumped around like a kangaroo when I picked him up from school that day. He loved the zoo – the animals, the playground, the bus ride. A few months later, as he blew out his candles for his birthday, he wished the whole family could go to the Antwerp Zoo. On a chilly day in December, Sinterklaas rang our doorbell and scurried away on Amerigo

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LamberMontMartre

LamberMontMartre

The depressed clouds had been crying off and on all morning – their tears flooding our patio then drying just as quickly. Like a confused husband, we shrugged and decided to move forward with our plans. It was a once-a-month outdoor event (only occurring during the summer months, at that) and promises had been made to our daughter. We skipped the tram and drove into the city – to the free parking lot just a few blocks from the impressive but lonely museum. We’d seen the museum the week before – after a visit to Antwerp’s newest and (in my

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Planckendael

Planckendael

The crush of cars choke the roadway. The children – shoulder-to-shoulder in their carseats in the backseat compete for dominance and attention. I press my head into my hand and stare out the passenger window. My husband grips the steering wheel and leans forward, willing the vehicles to move beyond the bottleneck traffic light. The green light allows us and one other car forward before teasing the others and flashing red. We take and left and are free! Only to gaze in horror at the packed parking lots, the cars jumping curbs and grinding to a halt in the weeds

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Te Boelaerpark

Te Boelaerpark

Gravel crunches under my feet. Naked trees loom above me, their skinny limbs reaching into the grey cold sky. I push faster – dodging patches of ice and slow Belgians. I must be the coldest and fastest person in this country right now. The red thermometer flashed outside the Chinese restaurant around the corner: 3 degrees. Celsius to Fahrenheit mental conversion is just something I have little will to master, but I do know this. Three degrees is cold. I chase the puff of frozen air ahead of me while jamming to my American rap and pop music buzzing in

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Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo

“The Antwerp Zoo is stunning, it’s really a botanical garden with animals,” a fellow expat friend told me last fall. “Have you been?” she asked. Despite the numerous times we’d visited Antwerp while living in the Netherlands, we never had taken the kids. Passed it plenty – it’s just steps from the Antwerp Centraal Train Station, but with daily prices at a rate of 19 Euros/child and 24 Euros/adult – 86 Euros just seemed like a lot to shell out in one go. Upon moving to Antwerp we quickly discovered the beauty of the zoo membership. For 189 Euros, the

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St. Anna’s Tunnel

St. Anna’s Tunnel

The wind whips through our hair as I gaze at the fearless below. A lone girl lounges back on her hands, one leg outstretched – a black boot dangling over the edge of the wall – undeterred by the fifty-foot drop to the glistening water below. A respectable distance away from the quiet one, a boy and girl laugh. Their legs tucked and arms wrapped around their knees and they rock back and forth on the stone pier. They sip from red cans of Jupiler beer between gazes at the water. The sunset casts glaring reflections on the muddy water.

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Expats Again

Expats Again

“So. . . what do you think? Do you think I should apply?” My husband, V and I are sitting in our air-conditioned living room in Plano, Texas. It’s been hot. It’s October 2015. But of course it’s hot. It’s Texas. All three kids are asleep, for now. It’s only a matter of hours (or minutes) until Baby B awakes, wanting a bottle.  Our four-year-old, Holden, has been put back to bed for the seventeenth time. Cosette, our five-year-old is like a princess in peaceful slumber.  V has his computer open on his lap. A job opportunity with his company

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Kouter Flower Market

Kouter Flower Market

A concrete slab. Construction lining the concrete slab. An ornate pavilion overlooking the concrete slab. That’s what I knew of the Kouter Square. We’d been to Gent a handful of times when we lived in the Netherlands, and had always parked in the garage below. We took the elevator with the stroller and wandered into the city from this central location. We lived in Gent for a month before settling in Antwerp. We packed up the kids one Sunday morning and headed into town via tram to explore the many markets the Gent guidebooks and websites listed. We stepped off

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Holding Hands

Holding Hands

Confession: I saw this couple holding hands through a park in Gent and it made me really happy.

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