New Year’s Eve 2020 – Top 10 List

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New Year’s Eve 2020 – Top 10 List

New Year’s Eve 2020 – Top 10 List

2020 has been the year of all years. And the heaviness of the events continues to weigh on our minds and hearts. We hope for a happy new year – full of excitement and reconnecting, but we’ve been through enough by now to set our expectations low. How will this year be remembered? What will the history books say? What will be the result of so much heartache, loneliness, and fear? The world is collectively dealing with the sudden loss of loved ones – what will be the psychological repercussions of such? But on a smaller scale, how will each

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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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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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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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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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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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