Monday, March 30, 2009
It actually was a worthwhile experience. Met new friends and kept my mind sharp as I was assigned to work at one of the cash registers (or the "till" as is known here). But unlike the very sophisticated sales in the States, this sale had none of the cash register or barcoding technology. I sat with a partner while she called out a seller number and a price for each item being bought for each buyer. I transcribed them on a pad of paper in organized lists and then had to total up one by one with a solar calculator. The calculator kept freezing up when folks walked in front of the nearby windows, thereby blocking the light. Keep in mind most people buy on average 35-50 items at these sales (why not, the prices are so cheap!) so that makes for a lot of numbers! By the end of the 4 hour sale my eyes were crossed and blurry. I hope the event was a success. I sold some of Connor's things and earned about 60 euros as a seller - exactly what I ended up spending on my 30 nearly new items! I hear the line and onslaught entrance when the doors opened was madness with elbows thrown and clothes everywhere. It cracks me up what grown women will do for used children's clothes.
I do admit though to a little thrill in picking out nearly new clothes at prices less than 1 or 2 Euros. I bought a lot of frilly girl dresses that were just too cute to resist. Who knows if it will ever be warm enough to wear the sleeveless ones, but they were such a bargain and Mom thinks they look uniquely European (yeah!). Connor especially loved the blue tulip sunhat and the colorful ruffle skirt. She enjoyed modeling those while in her PJs along with the polka dot jacket I brought home. What a fashion statement! But I also found myself buying some "boy stuff" - cars and trucks and a bag full of plastic lizards and snakes. It must be the Uncle El and the Cousin David in me coming out! Since most of Connor's friends are boys, I think the boy toys are influencing her preferences.
When I found these 2 little costumes, I couldn't resist. There is one fireman and one policeman - both with matching hats. They Velcro in the back and are lots of fun to run around in. Brady, when can you come over to play cops and fight fires with me?Oh, and last but not least. Connor and Kirk had a terrific daddy-daughter day while I was consigning clothes. They played at the playground and all over the house. When I got home they were eating pasta and peas - Connor's favorite.
It is intriguing to watch her little personality at work. Luckily the famous parenting tip of distraction works wonders, most of the time. It is all about knowing the priority and hierarchy of different items and knowing how to use them to your advantage. I do sometimes worry that bribing and distracting children isn't the same as just insisting they learn tough lessons and cry it out, but for now we take it one day at a time. And since we will be hosting our BCT Playgroup tomorrow morning, I will have to put away our very favorite toys (like the small plastic stroller) to avoid too big of a case of the "Mines" with the other children.
But unfortunately, we have had a tiny con to this most recent "spring forward." Connor is all off kilter. It amazes me that the child can handle the 6 hour time zone changes no problem as we crisscross the Atlantic, yet shift an hour and she doesn't bounce back as easily. Especially if it now means light streaming into her room at bedtime. The past two nights have been unsettling as she usually makes nary a peep and falls asleep. But she has been rustling about and calls for us - loudly. I will indulge her twice - go in and rub her back and tell her to sleep - and then she is on her own. Luckily that is usually what it takes. I should be on the lookout for a blackout shade to hide the light, but I think maybe just time and routine will ease the adjustment, I hope! On the flip side a later wake up call isn't such a bad thing.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I took these photos as I was doing the piles of laundry one day. There is something rewarding about folding and putting away clean laundry. Before moving here we always did our laundry separately. Kirk did his and me, mine. Here it is all mixed in together. I must say though, matching men's black dress socks is quite a challenge. You can see from the photo below that I am usually a champ at the clothes, but matching socks in my downfall! I let them pile up til we get desperate.
Well this week that waiter must have thought he was pretty slick. He let us get settled at the table and instead of coming to get our order, he came directly to the table with 5 LARGE glasses of OJ, already ready. He must have juiced it ahead of time and just had it waiting for us!!! It made me laugh and clap out loud to see his pride in thinking ahead. Sure am glad we actually came this day or there would have been a lot of extra juice.
Brussels is known for having rude wait staff and customer service. And it is true, most act like an imposition to help you. But hats off to Sucre Sale for our dapper waiter who made us feel valued and anticipated in this simple, small act!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Little did I know that Karen was actually a league bowler as a child - complete with a monogrammed ball of her own! She and Tony were amazing with a streak of consecutive strikes and spares to start off our frames. Look out! Kirk tried to hold up the Willingham name with a solid performance, but I lost both games and definitely took the award for the most gutter balls. Oh well, we had fun - that is what matters!
Connor was so excited by all the BALLS and the bowling sounds! She kept trying to pick up the heavy bowling balls so we had to watch her (and her toes!) very closely. She and Brady did take turns "helping" us bowl. We got several balls stuck halfway down the alley for lack of force in these cases. Oops!
I just think it is culturally accepted that you don't have to pick up after your dog. No use complaining too much about it though. It ain't going to change. Just part of the story of living here. Just won't wear any fancy-dancy shoes I care very much about and that aren't wipeable on the cobblestone streets.
But so you don't end this post thinking about dog poop I will counter with my favorite part about walking the streets here, especially right now. Passerbys are always carrying huge bouquets of flowers these days (sorry I don't have a photo of THAT for you). Enormous packages of flowers with stems as thick as a football. Just the way people in NYC would carry a newspaper with them - very nonchalantly under their arms. It makes me smile. The flowers here are so affordable, fragrant, and fresh. We should buy more flower bouquets in the US and just carry them around like it is no big deal!
So you may be wondering how we are able to watch these games an ocean away? Gotta love technology! We have this awesome invention called a Slingbox. It is perfectly legal. We bought the machine that attaches to a cable box back in the States - in our case at brother Ryan's house. It literally lets us take control of the Atlanta cable box via a remote control on the computer. We downloaded the software on our computer and via satellite waves the cable signal "slings" from Atlanta to our computer in Belgium. We haven't missed too much of Oprah, Grey's Anatomy, and Lost thanks to Slingbox. We can DVR shows and watch them back at our leisure. Which makes me wonder why we can't just record the basketball games and watch at a more normal time - like not smack in the middle of the night?!? Oh well, Kirk doesn't want to miss out on anything - so "live" it must be. Thank you Slingbox technology. It helps us to not feel quite so far away from home.
Friday, March 27, 2009
It was a dreary, rainy night though. And I attempted public transportation. It took a lot longer and it was a lot colder back and forth that way (than in the car), but it was also very urban and the time of quiet solitude en route was a welcome break after constant activity with Connor. We ate at L'Ultime Atome, which is right off of the Chausee d'Ixelles (photo not taken last night - picture this place but dark and rainy). Very yummy with lots of menu choices and good ambiance.
So it was while walking to the bus stop that I thought about how funny it is that I live in such a cold and rainy city now. I absolutely detest and boycott umbrellas and jackets whenever possible. Always have and always will. But here those are two primary necessities. Yet last night was the first time I have carried an umbrella in the 6 months we have been here. I prefer to run it out. And since Connor's stroller is covered, it usually works. Last night I was dueling with my umbrella and wasn't sure if it was going to turn inside out or stay right side in. I can't imagine how I could push a stroller while carrying an umbrella at the same time! A mother's multitasking never ends.
Pink Blankie has the soft bumps just like "Green Muh-Muh" did and the soft satin lining. I still can't believe Mom tracked it down. "Green Muh-Muh" came from Steinmart and you know how those knock-off department stores are. They usually don't have a consistent stock, especially 2 years later. But she found it and sent it over to us. Granted I think the postage for it cost just as much as the blanket itself!
The only challenge with Pink Blankie is the larger size. It is too big as compared with Green Muh-Muh's small square, holdable shape. Connor trips over Pink Blankie when walking. So my dear friend, Dallas, has a sophisticated sewing machine and the talent to go along with it so she has Pink Blankie right now and is working on cutting it into pieces. That way it will be smaller for Connor PLUS we will have a back up should the unthinkable happen again! Mom, you are wonderful. Thanks for caring so much and understanding security blanket drama. I love you.
So Saturday morning as soon as Connor wakes up, the vacuum will be out and it will be the kind of cleaning where furniture is moved to get in to the nooks and crannies. It usually takes both of us being at home to accomplish this type of deep clean. Kirk will entertain Connor in order to leave me alone to my chore - otherwise she will be underfoot all the time. I am almost through all of the laundry from our Poland trip and there are clean sheets on our bed. Who knows maybe I will be on a roll and even scrub our bathtub and magic eraser the stroller smudges on the walls? Doesn't it sound like a glamorous weekend in Europe?!?! TGIF!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
My dear friend, Jen, married David - her best friend from college - on February 28 in Chapel Hill. It was a small, intimate wedding. The happiness of being together jumps off the photos she sent me, don't you think? They are a great couple. Destined. They started dating last summer and within months were engaged and now married and setting up a new life in Charlotte, NC. But if you are already best friends then it doesn't take long to know when it is right.Here is the thing. Jen has during the course of their engagement been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It is benign, thankfully, but they are pretty sure it will require surgery to alleviate some pretty debilitating symptoms she is experiencing. And there are still many unknowns. Talk about putting the "in sickness and in health" vows to the test right away. David seems a loving, devoted mate. I am so happy for them and their newlywed glee. Surely that will carry them through this medical hurdle and sail them into the rest of their life together.
At our Hotel Grodek, Connor found a special niche in the closet to use as her "house" - which kept us in stitches the entire trip. She would climb in and slide the mirrored door back and forth and call out "house, house, house." I was surprised she wasn't fearful of the complete darkness with the door closed. And she only pinched her fingers twice, so the cozy enclosed spot was her special space. It reminded me of the linen closet I would nap in at my Meme's house!