Dino Bites

Dino Bites

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend Adventures

Our outing on Saturday was a visit to downtown Li├Ęge.  We wandered around the local mall. While there, we wandered through several stores.  In one bookstore, the kids and I were excited to discover a second book to a cute picture book I brought home from my mission.  We also went to a toy store and finished up by eating some ice cream.


The three younger kids weren't too excited to go to the mall at first, 
but they loved the little fishing pond outside.

They also loved this fun airplane in the plaza.  The teenagers hanging 
around the tail had fun joining in the pictures.


Today was our second Sunday at church.  Ben has been going there for a couple of months, so they were all awaiting our arrival anxiously.  The kids were better prepared this time for everyone to be speaking French.  There are leaders for both the Primary and Young Women's that speak English thankfully.  Kayanna has brought the total of Young Women up to 3, and the younger kids have doubled the Primary.  I played the organ in Sacrament Meeting today.  Unfortunately, 2 of the songs were really tough even with sufficient practice, so I didn't do so well.  I could also really tell that I hadn't touched a keyboard in 3 weeks.  I think I just might have to find a cheap keyboard or a loaner while we're here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Castle Ruins at Palogne

Yesterday while Ben was getting ready for work, I looked at the weather forecast.  The chances of rain were very low, and after two days of rain, the kids and I were ready to get out of the house for a bit.  "I have to have the car today!" I said to Ben.  I jumped out of bed and got dressed quickly to drive him to work.

I came home and did some quick research to try to find something to do.  I found a website with lots of great ideas and picked one called Domaine de Palogne.

After lunch, I piled the kids into the car and we drove off to our latest exploration.  After lots of fun driving on backstreets, we arrived at our destination.  There was an awesome playground where the kids had a great time playing.



 After a long time, I finally convinced them to hike up to see the castle ruins.

The kids are in front of the entrance to the castle.


The kids at the front of the castle ruins

The view from the wall in the picture above

The weather was great!  We experienced one short episode of sprinkling while we were in the ruins, but it dried quickly.  The castle was built over natural caves, and some of them were apparently used as passages during the castle's strong days.  We went through a couple of them, but I didn't get any pictures.  I was too busy watching my feet and using my phone as a flashlight.  They did have lights, but they weren't very strong.

After we hiked back down, the kids played at the playground a lot longer until it was time to pick up Ben from work.

At the Domaine de Palogne, they also have a falconry show, kayaking, biking, and min-golf.  I'm pretty sure we'll be going back there again!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sausage & Stoemp

Dinner this evening was a traditional Belgian meal of liegeoise sausage & stoemp.  Stoemp is a dish of mashed potatoes and other vegetables.  This particular recipe used carrots and also included lardons (similar to bacon) and onions.



Most of the kids were excited to try something new.  Sarah's feelings are quite evident.

The verdict?  We will definitely be eating stoemp again, and Abe is asking me to buy more sausage.

If you want to try it yourself, here is the recipe:

500 g potatoes, diced
500 g carrots, diced
200 g lardons or bacon
1 onion
butter
salt
pepper

Cook bacon/lardons in some butter.  Remove from pan.  Add diced onion to pan and cook until carmelized.  Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Add diced carrots and potatoes and boil until soft.  Drain but keep the water.  Mash the vegetables, adding water as necessary.  Stoemp should be a little chunky.  Add the bacon and onions and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is traditionally served with sausage, although serving it with chicken or other meats is also common as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gallo-Roman Museum

In learning about Belgium, I learned that one of the Roman cities here was where modern Tongeren is.  Although the original Roman city is long gone, I was anxious to go and see what little was left.  I learned that there is a museum there covering the history from prehistoric man to the invasion of the Germanic tribes in about 400 AD.  Even better, it had a reasonable price for families.  We packed a picnic lunch and set out!

Here we are at a rest area enjoying peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches.



At the museum, they also had a traveling exhibit about prehistoric man with cool workshops.  We got to try to use a granite rock to chip off flint.  The kids also had fun striking flint on iron pyrite into dried toadstool to make sparks for a fire.  Here is Abraham giving it a try.

I succeeded in getting an ember from the sparks.  After we all tried for a while, the demonstrator made a great fire in some kindling.


The upstairs was really neat.  We got to see a model of how the Roman city probably looked.  There were all kinds of artifacts from Roman times, including a beautiful mosaic floor under glass so you could walk over it.  I never knew they used glass bottles in Rome, but there were lots on display.  They say that part of the wall and aqueduct are still visible, but we couldn't find them as we left.

Abraham had kind of a hard time, but that's to be expected from a four-year-old at a museum.  I think we'll be doing this kind of thing a lot, though, so I hope he gets used to it.  There is so much history here and so many neat things to see and do.  I think next weekend we'll target the boys' interests a little more.  I really enjoyed our trip today in spite of whining and tantrums.

On another topic, I have decided that learning to cook in a foreign country is almost like learning to cook all over again!  So far nothing I've made here tastes the same as it did in the States.  It's not bad, though.  The glass cook top has also taken some getting used to.  I miss my gas range where the heat turned up and down much faster.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Exploring

This morning the kids and I decided to go for a walk. The kids ran outside while I put in a load of laundry. Sarah came bursting back in the house, excitedly describing the neighbor she had just met. "His name is John, and he speaks English! He has grandkids with him, too, but they only speak French."

I went out and met him. We had a nice conversation. He told us about a chateau not far from here and gave us directions. We started walking. I didn't follow the directions quite right, so we didn't find it. We did find a cool wood very close where the kids will enjoy playing. We also walked behind a huge cornfield and find a nature path set up by some school kids a few years ago. We got home very ready for lunch.

This evening, Ben and I went out for a date. Without knowing what would be open, we just started driving. We were pleased to find a large convenience store that is open till 10 pm!  Most stores close by eight. This presents a problem if we run out of milk and Ben doesn't get home from work until almost eight. So this was a great find.

Here are pictures of the kids on our walk today.

Getting Settled

The last few days we have been unpacking and struggling to get over jet lag. Things are mostly in order now, so I hope to take some pictures of the house next time it's sunny.

Belgium is beautiful and green. It is often cloudy and rainy. Ben once said that the percentage chance of rain can almost be translated into what percentage of the day it will rain.  It has been unseasonably cold.
The kids have fun looking at the sheep. They are also loving a new house to explore and play in.

Today we went to register with the commune, which is sort of like a county. They were quite surprised to see a family of seven walk into their little office. Anthisnes is not a big commune, and they don't really have experience with expats. Luckily we had an agent from the relocation company with us to guide us all through the process! We actually live in a tiny area called Petit Berleur which seems to be just a group of about 20 houses on three streets.

This evening some of us took a walk. I did take a picture of the front of the house.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First morning in Belgium

Good morning from Anthisnes! Even the cows and sheep seem to be hiding this morning. I love this view out my kitchen door.

I drove Ben to work this morning, and the kids were still in bed when I got home. I finally woke them up about ten.

The kids are laughing and happy after a good rest.

The picture of the boys is on the stairs in the entry hall. The stained glass goes through to the dining room.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On the plane!

We just boarded to go to Atlanta. We survived the first airport without losing any children or luggage.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

24 Hours!!!

24 hours to go.  I'm packing up my computer.  Probably the next time I post, it will be from Belgium!

Friday, August 15, 2014

48 Hours

We had a great party last night.  It was so fun to see so many family and friends before we take off.  Thanks so much to everyone who came!  And a big thanks to my dad and uncles who gave us a great performance.  If you missed the party, you are still welcome to stop by and see us.

There are 48 hours to go.  The suitcases are mostly packed.  Yesterday I finished cleaning my room.  The family room remains almost untouched, however, so I'm panicking about that.  I also have a fruit fly infestation in the kitchen.  Grrrr...  The trap is working well, but there are so many that I hate to walk in there.

On Saturday morning, the suitcases are all going to my mom's house where we will spend the night.  During the day Saturday, all the stuff and the beds from upstairs need to be packed up and put in the basement.  We haven't had much luck finding people to help, so if you can come help, please let me know!!!  I know, I should have asked for help a while ago so people could plan it, but I guess I didn't think of it as really moving or something.  Normally we do plan moving day a little better than this.  Maybe I'm just out of practice.  After all, we have lived in this house for over 5 years.  That's a record for us!

Well, I better stop writing and start packing.  Here are a few pictures from the party.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crazy Days

Today Ben and I flew to California and back to apply for our visas.  The paperwork is in, and since the packets were complete, they should be done Monday.  It was surreal to do that kind of trip but very nice not to have to pack or be away from the kids too long.  This is the great news!

In other news, we've had some other crazy stuff going on.  On Monday, July 28, I took Kandy to the doctor to get some warts frozen off.  Unfortunately, on her right pinkie finger, she developed a ridiculously huge blood blister.  On Friday, we took her to an urgent care facility at night to get it drained.  Yesterday I took her to the pediatrician again.  The doctor said, "Wow, I've never seen this happen before."

Kandy was referred to the outpatient burn clinic.  My mom took her to the appointment since I had to be on a plane to California!  The good news is that it should be all healed up in 7 days.  The bad news is she really can't go to girls' camp.  Oh, wait, did I say that was bad?  Well, I do feel bad that she's missing it, but I'm grateful that next weeks' packing and prepping won't be complicated by her being gone.

And as if cleaning and packing the house (with lots less help than usual from Kandy), doing ridiculous amounts of paperwork, and Kandy's medical issues weren't enough, the dog got sick.  I had to take her to the vet yesterday morning.  She is now wearing the cone of shame, taking pills, and getting ointment rubbed on her rash twice a day.

I'm so glad Ben is home, and I'm feeling quite overwhelmed by the amount of work to get done in 8 days!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

One step closer

Yesterday we got the last batch of documents back from receiving the apostille verification.  We picked them up at the lieutenant governor's office.  I took all the kids (and a couple of their friends) with me so they could see the state capitol building.  After we got home, Missy had fun painting faces.  Not too bad for a first time, I think!  She is a very talented artist.



The only paperwork left to do is the visa applications.  We're still packing the house and the suitcases.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

14 Days to Go...

There are 14 days left until we hop on the plane.  I'm grateful that Sunday is a day of rest, so I don't feel bad about not packing anything today.

Yesterday I took the kids to have fun at Kangaroo Zoo.  While there, I worked on the packing list for what we are actually taking with us.  Ben and I also discussed plans for our good-bye party with our friends.  More details on that later.

Friday, August 1, 2014

TICKETS!

The company purchased the tickets Thursday..  It is official: we are leaving on Sunday, August 17, 2014.  That's just a little over two weeks away!  All the doctor visits are done, and the last batch of documents that needed to be verified by the lieutenant governor's office (apostille stamped) was dropped off today.  Ben and I fly to California for a day trip next week to go to the Belgian consulate.