Monday, November 30, 2009

The Magic of Disney

With the months abroad ticking away and our weekend adventures fast and furious, we wanted to be sure we set aside time to try out EuroDisney in Paris. It seemed only fair to indulge Connor. She has been so patient and flexible with our more adult travels.

We woke up well before dawn to travel the 3 hours from Brussels to the park to get there as it opened. It was supposed to be a miserable weather day and we drove through gales of wind and pounding rain, doubting we would last even a moment at the park. But wouldn't you know we arrived and the pixie dust must have taken hold because the clouds parted and blue sky peeped through.This Disney park is practically identical to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Right down to the traffic jam to enter the parking lot! Main Street is the same and the "Lands" are the same. Even the rides are matching. The only difference I saw was that the "Cast Members" did not have the same level of polish and pizzazz as in the USA and the fellow French folks did not seem as full of the Disney spirit. A little pushier and ruder and most were smoking. Isn't that a Mickey No-No?!?Those hiccups aside we were still greeted with a big Disney "Welcome/Bienvenue!" and we were all brimming with excitement to discover EuroDisney.Especially Connor! I thought she was going to pop out of her carseat she was so happy!Our friends Mai and Jan met us at Disney with their daughter, Aili. Aili is exactly Connor's age and the two girls were precious together. A playmate to shriek, laugh and gasp with. The joy was exponentially elevated.Cinderella's Parisian Castle is PINK!And I don't know who these weathermen think they are over here, but they were W-R-O-N-G about this day! It couldn't have been a prettier, blue sky day. We were lucky!!!First up Jan and Kirk took Aili and Connor on the "horse-asel." After riding every carousel all over Europe it seemed a fitting start.Next Connor eyeballed an old favorite...But before I go further just indulge me separating the Disney posts. It was only one day, but I still want to savor the 'specialness' by detailing it out. I am convinced that this age is one of the best for Disney. The magic is real and lives through a two year old in a way that is pure and wonderful. And contagious!

Neuhaus Chocolate Factory

My New Year's diet has to start a month early after this the Neuhaus Chocolate factory.Oh my. Dallas, Connor and I traveled down the road to the Neuhaus Chocolate Outlet right before Dallas left for a home visit. She wisely stocked up on candy in bulk to bestow to all friends and family awaiting true Belgian chocolate.
We were just there to tag along. And to of course taste the scrumptious samples they had out EVERYWHERE! My belly ached and I was parched with thirst after all the tastings. But you know we just had to help Dallas pick out the perfect morsels for her chocolate gifts.
This place is only one room, but it is so so dangerous.
Connor found a pure white chocolate Saint Nicholas since she couldn't readily indulge in the varied tastings - you know that nut allergy creeps up in so many places.Over in the "Lucky Corner" we found the goods we were looking for. Three of these enormous boxes for 25 euros (I think each box had 2 lbs in it - that is some serious chocolate!). They aren't in the elaborate packaging and each box contains only one kind so it is up to you to decorate, repackage and mix and match. Dallas was up to the task.Each box type has a sampling tray in front of its corresponding stack. It is a LUCKY corner for sure!It all made for one tasty outing!We left happy albeit on sugar highs and with sore bellies!Yep, the diet starts today. No more chocolates for me!

Gobble, Gobble Turkey Day

With Thanksgiving being strictly an American holiday we did our best to string out the Turkey Day festivities across the ocean. Our first project was to put together the model "turkey" I got at the book fair. It was really a peacock but close enough... I thought it would be easy as 1-2-3 to paint and then snap the pieces together.
Um, WRONG! It must have been some expert modeler's craft because we were defeated. We did manage to balance it together for a few photos. Only half painted, but just to get this far was a miracle.
It put us in a thankful mood to put out our turkey placemats...
And to create hand turkeys for grandparents...
We also had our Halloween pumpkin still whole. I thought it would be a fun afternoon activity to get the seeds out and roast them. I was sure Connor would LOVE sticking her fingers in the gooey mess.I was wrong. She pulled the top off, took one look inside, and wanted nothing more to do with the pumpkin. She scrunched up her face and declared over and over again that she did NOT want to try it!So she came up with some new games with the pumpkin accessories...And I finished deseeding the pumpkin.Connor thought the seeds were great fun to play with once they were clean and clear of the orange goo.It wasn't long til she stuck her feet in the bowl.And knowingly fed them to Elmo...Unfortunately my pumpkin seeds sat out too long before I baked them. They sprouted! Oh well. I threw them away before we had a pumpkin patch inside.

By the time Thanksgiving actually arrived we were primed and ready for the big day. Of course it was odd because it was a regular workday in Brussels. Kirk went to work and people bustled about in the city just like any old day. We did watch the Macy's parade on our 4 PM our time due to the time zone difference. Connor loved the floats!

Our friends, Joe, John, and Tom had us over for a turkey feast. They are new expats and colleagues of Kirk. We were certainly thankful for their invitation. Dinner was delicious!Connor with Joe...We made pilgrim hats in celebration of Thanksgiving. They were a little small for adult heads, but whatever...The bird was beautiful. Chef Joe did a fabulous job. We went together to the British/English grocery earlier in the week to get it. Turkies aren't regular grocery items in Belgian stores. I brought green bean casserole, pumpkin bread and rice. We watched Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, which Connor loved.Sweet Joe made pumpkin pie that melted in our mouths.. And for Connor he made an extra special treat...It was all we could do to snap a photo before Connor devoured her personalized cookie!Thank you so much Tom and John and especially Joe for a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a ball. We will always remember our Belgian Thanksgivings!!!

Click here for full album photos of our Thanksgiving Projects (and a few other outings too!)