Thursday, April 03, 2014

March Points in April

Oops, over a month since I last wrote. Time sure flies. Will try to sum up what has happened this past month.
  • We have had several instances of very nice weather. A weekend of 20 degrees a few weeks ago and then again this whole week. I'm very envious of Peter who is not working and is free to spend all day outside if he wants to. The kids seem to enjoy all the time outdoors too, and not having to wear a jacket.
    Harald at our local playground

Nature's beauty

  • Peter's sister with family visited in mid-March (unfortunately it was pretty cold on the Saturday but Sunday was pretty nice). It was the first time they visited us (not Brussels though) so it was nice to show them our home here and our neighbourhood. Isolde and cousin Olivia (2 years old) played really well together, and Harald was almost keeping up with their pace (it will be fun to see all three of them play together in the summer when Harald is a bit older).
    Three cousins and little artists

  • In March we made several visits to Parc Malou playground with the neighbours and also hung out at each other's place, including tapas lunch at their place and waffles at ours. P. and I also try to take the metro home from work together (in the morning she leaves earlier than me as I drop off Isolde at school).
    Hanging with the neighbours in Parc Malou

    
    Parc Malou

    
    Buddies

    Waffles!
  • Our get-to-know-new-people drink on 8 March was a success. I think we were 22 adults and 12 children (under the age of four) in the end. It looked like people were enjoying themselves and I have played family match-maker following the event. I took some pictures with the regular camera (all photos in this post are with the iPhone) but haven't not uploaded them yet.
  • I went on an overnight work trip to Sweden and there was no storms or other mishaps this time! That is fortunate because otherwise I'm not sure the Commissioner would want to travel with me again! We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Uppsala that I can really recommend. Very nice name too ;)
    My room had a cosy window niche with views of Uppsala cathedral
  • Peter attended a job hunting seminar the Commission organises for spouses and met some new people at the same time. If we stay here after this year, which we hope to do, he will need to find a job here (but working remotely for his present employer could also be an option). I had the day off to take care of Harald and I chose a day of beautiful weather with 20 degrees - the next day it was miserable and raining!
    Magnolia blossom on my day off
  • Our flat in Sweden is free now from April and we're looking for a new tenant in case anyone is interested?!
  • My mother visited the very last weekend of March. My aunt was supposed to come along but unfortunately she has problems with her back and needs surgery and had to cancel. Hopefully she can visit in the autumn instead. My mum arrived on Thursday evening (a bit delayed after having been rebooked via Copenhagen) and Friday she was home with Peter and the kids (I had to work unfortunately), and while Peter took Harald for his weekly swimming session she baked cinnamon buns with Isolde. Isolde had been talking about baking with grandma for weeks, so she was very happy. They also made some Easter crafts and went to the playground. Saturday we went to Gent, a town about an hour's drive from Brussels. It was a lovely day weatherwise so perfect for an excursion. We had lunch outdoors at one of the restaurants in the square by Saint Bavo cathedral. Sunday we checked out Bois de la Cambre, another big park in Brussels, and then spent the rest of the day in our regular haunt Parc Malou where we were also joined by the neighbours.
     
    Story time with mormor in the balcony

    
    Pretty canals and houses in Gent
    
    More houses along canals

    
    A bottle in a barrel of ice can be lots of fun!
  • Isolde went to her first proper birthday party last month! She has of course celebrated little friends' birthdays before but I mean the first real kid party where she's invited and parents are only invited as chaperones really. Her classmate Félix had invited Isolde and one other girl from the class. Félix's mother tried to do a few games with them - and I was surprised that Isolde accepted to be blindfolded for one of them! - but mostly they just wanted to play freely. Isolde lasted about 75 minutes and then she wanted to go home :)  I'm really happy she was invited and I hope to organise a playdate or get-together again soon. Félix's parents seem very nice, and it would be good to know some Belgians as well (the father is Belgian and the mothre German but moved her as a child or teenager).
  • We were thinking of booking some holiday activities, so-called stages, for Isolde for next week, the first week of the Easter holiday, in order to try what it is like as we will probably need it during the summer when school's out (mainly August as we'll be in Sweden in July - school starts again in September) and Peter will have started working. However, in the end we thought about it a bit late and the most obvious one, which is held at Isolde's school (which I just found out about actually), was fully booked. So she will stay home with Peter and they will have to think of some activities on their own. 


  •  
  • Last time I wrote that we were going to do a daytrip on one of my days off, but we ended up having colds all of us so we stayed at home and also missed a colleague's carnival party. We did pop into our neighbours for their "neighbours' fika" for their friends living in (or soon moving into) our building or in the neighbourhood. Now we have at least been to Gent but we still want to go a bit further away and stay overnight somewhere. Top three on our list I think is the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Haarlem and the Hague), Luxembourg and Champagne in France. And it looks like we will be doing a roadtrip to Münich in Germany with our neighbours over the Ascension weekend at the end of May.
  • Harald is completely CRAZY about computers and he has already broken the screen of Peter's work laptop and both iPad screens, one of which had to be fixed but the other one is just a crack underneath the glass in one corner. He gets absolutely miserable if he can't play with them. It is annoying and cute at the same time. He also really likes to help out with the cleaning :)
    Favourite toy


  • My friend H. who I actually met for the first time here in Brussels almost 12 years ago was here for a work trip again and we went back to the pub where we met!
  • Lately Isolde has not wanted me to leave when I drop her off at school in the morning, but at the same time she is very happy about going to school while we are still at home in the morning and also on the way there, and everyday she tells me "it is fun in school, mummy", so I assume it is just a matter of missing me and finding it a bit difficult to say bye, even if it is just for a few hours. She's been in a very cuddly mood lately and telling me she loves me. They have a substitute teacher right now as well, who seems to be very good, but she doesn't help the children to stand in the window to wave to the parents like the regular teacher used to do. However, this week Isolde has been Miss Mischief at home and has also had trouble sleeping (I think it is partly growing pains), but she doesn't mind me leaving her at school in the morning. Maybe she's tired of us and just happy to be away from us parents for a few hours, these parents who try to rule over her and tell what she can and can't do! :)
    Bois de la Cambre
  • Finishing with a picture of Harald and me!
    Promenade Verte

  • Thursday, February 27, 2014

    February Points

    • Last days of February! It already feels like spring in Brussels (and a few days ago we had 12-13 degrees even) and when March comes it will be spring for real! I would have liked a bit more winter, at least a few days of snow, but otherwise I like living in a place with a bit milder climate than Stockholm.  And both the autumn and winter have been milder and sunnier and less rainy than normal Brussels weather, as I understand (and remember from my internship days here in 2002/2003).
    • Harald turned ONE this month!  Poor Harald didn't get much of a celebration on his birthday except for brief singing in the morning and a few presents at night, but Harald himself didn't really care :)  We celebrated his birthday again last weekend when farmor & farfar (Peter's parents) visited and will do the same when my mum and my aunt visit at the end of March. When Isolde turned 1 and also 2 we had big birthday parties to which we invited many friends with or without children, but here we don't know that many people yet, and our main set of friends here were both away around Harald's birthday (and afterwards the kids have had colds, and the time passed). So he will get his big party next year instead! 
    • Speaking of friends, we have invited friends, colleagues and acquaintances to a drink at our place next weekend.  We have asked each guest to bring with them another friend/family, as a way to get to know more people.  It is not mandatory of course but it would be fun to meet new people and it looks like most people liked our idea!

    • We have booked two sets of plane tickets to Sweden, first over Easter when we will be in Sweden 11-21 April, and then for a weekend in May, 22-25th, when my mum turns 60 (22nd). We are also going to book tickets for the summer soon - I think we will spend four weeks in Sweden, probably 7 July - 1 August, give or take a few days.
    • Peter has done EXTENSIVE research on cars but we have not made any definite decisions yet, and at the moment it looks like we will wait and see whether Peter would get a company car with his new job (which he will start looking for soon), as it seems like a rather common benefit in Belgium. And even if he doesn't, by then a few new models will have come out which may be worth waiting for.
    • Harald is now enrolled at the crèche that we visited and I wrote about earlier, and will start on 11 August. It seems very good and they actually seem to go outside even in the winter, which is not very common in this country. And guess what, our neighbour's little girl E. will start there in September (and her brother V. will go to Isolde's school but not in the same class)!
    • We are looking forward to having Peter's sister and family here for the first time in a few weeks' time.  Two weeks later my mum and aunt come, and two weeks after that we go to Sweden for Easter.  So a lot of family time coming up! Two friends are also coming again for work in March and will either stay the night with us or at least meet up for dinner, but one of them I might miss, as I may have to go to Sweden for work on that particular day.
    • Tomorrow I have the day off. Originally we planned to go somewhere for an overnight stay (around 2 hours away is France, Luxembourg and Germany and Netherlands is even closer), but now Peter also has the cold Isolde had last week and Harald has had this week, so we have decided just to do some sightseeing in Brussels tomorrow and just do a daytrip somewhere nearby (on hour's drive at the most) on Saturday. It is so nice with an extra day to the weekend, especially since I have been working a lot lately.
    • This weekend we also have some social activities to look forward to. We are invited to a colleague's carnival* lunch (she is Swedish and her sambo Portuguese and they have 2-year-old son) on Sunday, and after that we go directly to P & O's neighbours' coffee. As you know, they live in our building (and helped us found our flat) and now another family(Swedish-Welsh) they know are going to move in here too, and they have two other friends who live just around the corner.
    • Isolde has already celebrated carnival at school this week but like Halloween time she only wanted to wear her costume for a minute. For that reason we only got her a very simple costume - a leopard mask - and she also wore a tiger t-shirt we already had at home. When we arrived to school and she saw all her little friends in their costumes she wanted to put the mask on, but just as quickly she wanted to take it off and she got a bit upset and didn't really believe me or her teacher that she didn't have to wear it if she didn't want to. I don't know if she wore it later - at Halloween she actually did wear her sceleton costume later in the day, at least long enough for photos - but she wanted to bring it again the next day. But in general, even though she's starting to get into dress-up game, she doesn't see the purpose of it, except for playing. Like us parents I guess who like dressing up for a dinner or party, but are not particularly fond of costumes or fancy dress/masquerade.
    • I can't remember if I have mentioned it before, but since a couple of months back we are subscribing to the same "grocery bag"/"food bag" service we had in Sweden. It's the same recipes but here in Belgium it is called Smartmat instead of Middagsfrid. The produce is slightly better in Sweden but we're still really happy with it here, and since a few weeks back we do all vegetarian every other week.
    • Have a great Friday and weekend!

    * Celebration of the start of Lent. The Swedish equivalent is Shrove Tuesday when we eat semlor, but that is a very modest celebration compared to carnival.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Happy Birthday Harald!

    This little charmtroll turns ONE today!

    A whole year has passed since he surprised by arriving one month early!  This wonderful little person who gives us, his parents and sister, so much love and joy.  We love you so much!



    Our little walker!

    Thursday, February 06, 2014

    Thursday Again

    Suddenly two weeks have passed since my last post (that is starting to sound familiar...). I'm quite busy at work at the moment and I don't have much free time to blog there ha ha :) Anyway, here's a recap:
    • Our dear friends Jenny, Mauro & Leah as well as Maria & Daniel visited us for a long weekend in the middle of January. It was especially wonderful to have Jenny and her family here as they live in Brazil and don't come to Europe that often but this time they are in Sweden for three months and thus had time for a trip to Belgium as well (and we met them briefly in Sweden at Christmas). Isolde and Leah (20 months old) fought about toys from time to time but most of the time they really enjoyed each other's company. 
    Isolde wasn't too keen to let Leah try her bike

    Nice lunch at one of our favourite brasseries (since it has both an indoor play area and a playground outside) while two out of three children were napping.

    • We were invited to a raclette dinner at our friends and neighbours P & O but they couldn't find the raclette :) Fortunately the food was still delicious and the company a pleasure as always. I'm so glad they are our neighbours!  At the moment they are in Sweden for a couple of weeks and we miss them!
    • The following day (Sunday) O. and Peter went to the annual (?) Brussels car show and spent nine (!) hours there. We have the opportunity to buy a car VAT free here in Belgium and many auto dealers also offer "diplomatic discounts" and we want to take advantage of this of course. Peter is now doing very serious research with comparisons in excel and what not so it will be a well-informed decision once we take it. We will sell our current car once we have received the new one, no need for two cars! At the moment we are learning towards BMW, Volvo and Volkswagen Passat (our current car)  but we're also looking into SUVs or other cars that can take 7 passengers, which would be useful when we have visitors here in Belgium. 
    • I celebrated my 38th (yikes!) birthday last week. It was a Tuesday and a work day (I wish birthdays were always a day off!) but we had a dinner (and overnight) guest actually! My cousin Fredrik was in the country for work (he has a new job since a few months back which usually takes him to Zeebrugge near the coast) and decided to come a day early to celebrate my birthday and see where we live, so that was nice. 
    Cake from one of the local bakeries.

    • The day before my birthday my friend and former colleague Mette was in town for work and came over for dinner. She's coming back in March and then we'll probably go out for dinner instead. Last week was a week when I was going to be away on a work trip in the second half of the week and Peter would be alone with the kids for two days, including three evenings, and I felt he didn't need an extra evening on his own on top of that. 
    • The work trip was my second to Sweden since I started in September (and next one might be in March if it happens) but this one involved much more planning and preparation on my part as well as active participation by me during the actual visit.  We had quite a hectic meeting agenda but I had one free evening that I spent with a group of friends at one of the newer restaurants in town, Nosh & Chow.  I can really recommend it, both for the food and the atmosphere including the decor. 

    • While in Sweden I just had to have a semla of course, and I had it at one of the new cafées in our old neighbourhood.
    Semla at Karla café

    • I caught a cold just before heading to Sweden unfortunately.  It wasn't that bad during my two days in Stockholm but then at the weekend my nose was pretty clogged up and on Monday I stayed home to recuperate with the result that on Tuesday I was much better.  I'm glad I didn't get the cough that I usually get when I have a cold.  Perhaps the higher humidity in Belgium helps?
    • The day after returning from Sweden we attended our friend's Chris & Jacqui's daughter Emilie's baptism at their local (Catholic) church (where Jacqui also sings in the choir and lowers the average of the choir with about half..).  It was a nice little service followed by champagne, tea and cakes at their house. 
    I like that they invite the children to be a part of, or at least come closer during, the ceremony.

    • As for the children, Harald has started walking!  He prefers to crawl still but he walks more and more and also at his own initiative to get to one place to the other. 
    video

    • It looks like we have secured a place at a crèche (nursery) for Harald from July!  We will visit on Monday so I will know more then.  But it sounds like a good place (comes with recommendations) - it is just next to Isolde's school and the staff speaks English and one of them even Swedish! 
    • What else? Isolde had a haircut (much needed as it was getting long and matted), we got a new fridge/freezer as the old one was leaking and we're very happy to have a cleaning lady who comes once a week (she isn't perhaps as thorough as I would want her to be but she's a nice girl, and most importantly, we don't need to quarrel (as much) over cleaning.
    At the hairdresser

    The result!

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    December Last

    Thursday is bullet point day and since I haven't done one for a while I thought I'd restart this Thursday theme today.  I haven't blogged about our two weeks in Sweden over the holidays yet, nor about the weeks leading up to Christmas.  It is perhaps a bit overdue and not in anyone's interest to read about Advent and Christmas now, but for my own record here are some pics from December.
    • My mum visited in early December (that weekend I got stuck in Copenhagen Thursday to Friday) and she performed her grandmother duties very well and baked both ginger cookies and saffron buns with Isolde (and I helped a little too). 



     
    I brought some of the saffrons bun to work for the Christmas drink and another colleague made very delicious salmon and caviar treats = the Swedish contribution
     
    • I think I mentioned this in a previous Thursday post but without any photos, so here is one of perhaps the cosiest holidays/celebrations of them all, Saint Lucia.  In Sweden we very rarely every go to church, except for weddings, christenings and funerals, and the occasional Advent or Christmas service, but when living abroad the church becomes a very important meeting place, and something that provides a sense of community and contributes to continuity of Swedish customs and cultural habits, whether or not you are a faithful believer or not.  Peter has started going to the church's playgroups, mainly with Harald on Tuesdays but sometimes also on Wednesdays with both children.
    Saint Lucia with the children's choir at the Swedish Church in Brussels

    • I participated in Emma's Christmas Gift Exchange again this year, and this year my Secret Santa was Petchie!  I don't know if Emma planned it this way, since she knows we are neighbours here in Brussels, or if it was just a happy coincidence :)  And I sent my gift to Emma - and it wasn't that secret for natural reasons since she organises the draw.  Well, the gift was a secret but she knew it would be from me :)  I hope she liked her present (this reminds me that I have to double-check that she received it)!
    Petchie-Santa brought me a note book and a range of different cards.  She had read my letter to Santa carefully!  (Sorry about the feet in the picture!)

    • In Sweden the tradition is to decorate the Christmas tree on the 23rd of December, just the day before Christmas (Christmas Eve being the most important day of Christmas in Sweden), but since we knew we were not going to stay in Belgium over the holidays, we got a tree already the second week of December so we could get into the Christmas mood (the anticipation of Christmas is the best part after all). I'm quite minimalist in terms of Christmas ornaments (the opposite of Annika haha), and we didn't bring all our Christmas stuff to Belgium anyway (though Peter brought a few additional baubles for the tree when he went home that same weekend my mum was here) so in addition to the tree we only had a few other decorations, mainly made by Isolde at school.
      A bit funny-looking, at least the top part, but it was good enough for us.
     
    I really like this little Russian doll nativity set!
     
    We received a handful of Christmas cards.  I wish more people would send them, but on the other hand it is better for the environment if they don't I guess.  We still send a real card, with pictures of the children.

    One of Isolde's creations.  Harald was rather fascinated by it, maybe because it was even bigger than him!

    Another of Isolde's creations from school, a Saint Nicholas and a mushroom (I need to google why toadstools are typical Christmas ornaments, it can't be only because they are red and white??)

    And the prettiest Christmas ornaments signed Isolde, though this one I think we can use throughout the year as it is more pink than red.

    • We also tried to take some Christmas portraits of the children but it was a bit difficult... In the end we opted for a Christmas card with photos from throughout the year instead.
    Take 1

    Take 2

    Another day

    Christmas card 2013

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    2013 Report

    Happy New Year! Posts about our two weeks in Sweden coming up, but in the meantime, the 2013 annual accounts!  Illustrated by the photos we chose for the 2014 calendar.

    Did you do something in 2013 that you have never done before?
    Took a big life decision affecting not only myself but also my family when I decided (though of course consulting my husband), to take a job in another country.

    Did any of your friends become parents this year?
    Not that many, but we could welcome a few new little people.  A good mix of boys and girls - Ellna, Émilie and Ruth, and Dexter and Benjamin. 

    What dates from the year 2013 will you always remember?
    The top date is of course Tuesday 12 February 2013, when Harald was born.  He surprised us big time as he wasn't due until a month later on 11 March.  I also remember many dates around that time related to my new job in Brussels, as I had to rearrange interviews, etc. due to Harald arriving early :)

    Harald 9 days old in February 2013

    Have you been sick or injured yourself this year?
    No, except for the occasional cold.  I did have a terrible case of mastitis!

    Which countries did you visit? 
    Not that many actually, as I was pregnant and not allowed to fly at the very beginning of the year, and then for the first few months of Harald's life we didn't go anywhere, except for a new job-related trip to Belgium in May.  In June we attempted to go to France, but only made it to Denmark (Copenhagen airport) due to an air traffic control strike.  But in July we spent almost a week in the north of Norway with dear friends Maria and Daniel, and of course, at the end of August we moved to Belgium.  I made a short work trip to Sweden in December (where I also ended up spending an unscheduled stop in Copenhagen) and we also spent our Christmas holidays in Sweden.

    We also spent some time at the summer house but not as often as we would have liked.

    Best buy?
    The dishwasher in our flat in Brussels.  Can't believe our landlords didn't have one (although I've heard that they have started to change their minds now that they have children)!

    Best project?
    No DIY projects this year, except for weeding stuff and packing for the move, if that counts, but we did hire people to renovate our bathrooms (or rather, completely rebuild) in our flat in Stockholm.  We were able to enjoy them for three weeks or so before we moved to Belgium :)  Hopefully our tenants are taking good care of the shining tiles!

    Did something make you really happy?
    Seeing my children together, and especially in the last couple of months, from Harald turned 9-10 months old, when they have really started to play together and interacting in a "real" way.  Seeing how Harald follows Isolde around, both with his look and literally following her around the flat.  She often announces or tells us that he's there, especially in the morning or after he wakes from a nap.  "It is Harald!" (though she says it more like "that one is Harald" ;) So cute.

    Together, into the future (the calendar cover)

    Have you been lacking something in 2013 that you want in 2014?
    Sleep!  And time.  I was on parental leave February-August and in a way, had all the time in the world, but it felt like it went so quickly!  Especially with a new baby, and with my thoughts occupied on the pending job.  And now, since we moved to Brussels, it feels like time is just slipping away.  I work, come home, feed the baby, eat dinner, hang out with the kids and/or do some chores, put the kids to bed, and the suddenly it is 10pm and where did "my time" (egentid) go?  But I guess that is life right there.  I don't really suspect it to change much in 2014 (especially since I will now be working 40 hour-weeks instead of 37½...), but it should get a bit better as we get even more into the way and routine of living in Belgium (not that it have been de facto that much different than life in Sweden, but it's been mentally exhausting I guess).  Maybe we can get our kids to go to bed a bit earlier (or Harald at least, Isolde seems to be a lost cause), so that I can go to bed earlier, after I had some egentid... Wish us luck haha!

    What do you wish you could have done more?
    Sleeping.  I really need to discipline myself to go to bed earlier.  But it's that egentid that I also want, and I don't feel tired in the evening but then in the morning I'm soo tired.  Both kids usually sleep through the night (though Isolde often comes to our bed, and has had some periods of worried sleep, and Harald has had a few sickness periods with cold and cough), until at least 7 am, but until recently I would breastfeed Harald at least once sometime between 5 and 7 am.  And the main problem, sorry to repeat myself, is that I don't go to bed early enough.  Falling asleep around midnight and then sleeping until 7 am, minus an hour or two due to various sleep disturbances, is not enough for me.  I can really feel (and see?) how I have aged during the past year, and I don't think it's reversable unfortunately, though I hope the darkness under my eyes is.

    What do you wish you could have done less?
    Felt impatient and angry with the kids and yelled at Isolde.  I guess it's normal, and kids must learn and experience anger too, but I'm asking for a larger dose of patience with a child in the terrible twos (and soon threes) in 2014.

    Little Miss Mischief in December 2013

    Favourite programme on TV? 
    Orange is the New Black, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family and I also liked this year's julkalender (Christmas series) and Solsidan.

    Best book you read this year?
    I actually managed to read 10 books this year (or nine, as I read most of "How the States Got Their Shapes" in 2012), which is more than double than the year before.  It's really thanks to having a short commute to work (15 mins each way).  Of the list below I think I liked "The Bad News Bible" the most, but "Stenhjärtat" was also very good but depressing (about child abuse).
    • "The Bad News Bible" by Anna Blundy
    • "Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger
    • "I minnenas tecken" by Reginald Hill
    • "Karriär och köksbesvär" by Sophie Kinsella
    • "Pajernas värld" by Karen Stolz
    • "Guernseys litteratur- och potatisskalspajssällskap" by Mary Ann Shaffer
    • "No-One Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday" by Tracy Bloom
    • "The French House" by Nick Alexander
    • "Stenhjärtat" by Katarina Wennstam
    • "How the States Got Their Shapes" by Mark Stein

    Greatest musical discovery?
    I'm so bad at remembering song titles or names of artists, so though I'm sure I have heard some new and good music, I can't name it.  Instead I will answer that I love how Isolde is constantly singing (apparently I was too when I was little) and I'm amazed how many different melodies she knows!

    What was your greatest success at work in 2013?
    Well, it must be that I finally got the chance to work for the European Commission and work in Brussels, something I have wanted to do for a long time.

    Greatest success in your personal life?
    Getting that job offer is also very much part of my private life, especially since it involved moving my whole family.  But besides that, I guess rearing two wonderful little individuals. I guess they are both with their personalities but I also think they are who they are because of Peter and me.

    Harald in December 2013, almost 10 months old

    Biggest mistake?
    Can't think of anything, at least not anything serious.

    Isolde wasn't really planned when she announced she was on her way in 2010, but what a blessing!

    Were you happier or more sad this year compared to previous years? 
    I'm also a quite happy person and this year was no different. Maybe even happier because Harald came into our lives and I got this new job I always wanted. But also sometimes sad because at times juggling a job and the kids can be tough (but only up given for short moments, most moments at those of joy) and taking life-changing decisions are not, and should not be, easy.

    Something you wished for and got? A healthy little boy and the job I always wanted.  And the little but oh so important things, moments of love and joy with my little family.

    Sibling love in the spring and summer of 2013

    What did you spend most money on?
    Children's clothing and otherwise stuff related to the move to Belgium.  We didn't do much travelling this year, only to Norway, though relatively speaking it was an expensive trip as Norway is soo expensive!  Oh, and of course our bathroom renovation.

    Something you did NOT wish for and got?
    Harald has been sick much more than Isolde was her first year of life.  Nothing serious but colds that are coming and going, probably because of viruses at Isolde's (pre)school.  It makes him suffer for days with a really clogged up nose, cough and something fever, but also makes the rest of the family suffer from sleep deprivation.   I guess it is pretty normal but I still wish we could avoid all germs!  I also had a terrible case of mastitis that I could have lived without.

    Best film in 2013?
    I can't remembering going to the cinema a single time in 2013, but at least we watched quite a few films at home.  My favourites as I think back are "Argo", "Silver Linings Playbook".

    Seen films in 2013 and rated by me:

    5+
    Cloud Atlas
    Argo
    The Lady
    Life of Pi

    4+
    The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    Skyfall
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Hugo
    Oblivion
    Now You See Me

    3+
    Sahara
    Catch and Release
    The Hobbit
    The Heat

    2+
    Poseidon
    This is the End
    Despicable Me 2


    What did you do on your birthday 2013?
    I can't remember actually, I think we were just home as it was a Monday but went out for dinner the weekend before.

    About to be a big sister, two years old, in January last year

    How would you describe your style in 2013?
    As I was on maternity leave and/or at least breastfeeding most of the year, I would say nursing tops were my no 1 wear.  Casual style, jeans or chinos with a nursing top, until August, and after that more work appropriate clothes, however, there is no strict dress code in my new workplace.

    Is there anything that could have made your year even better?
    In an ideal world I would have stayed home with Harald to the end of the year at least (at least 10 months, as with Isolde) before I started working, but you can't have everything.  I'm very grateful that he can be home with Peter instead of being in daycare.  My colleagues here in Brussels do not have that choice.  Some babies start already at four months old while some can stay home a bit longer to perhaps seven months, but the maximum is 10 months (4 months at regular pay levels, but then 6 months flatrate amount, which not everyone can live on).

    Harald "the Seal" in his new home in Brussels in September (sadly after he learned how to crawl he stopped doing the seal)

    What made you feel good?
    Being with my family - the children are so much joy all the time (okay, there are moments you almost wish you didn't have them, but then five minutes later they are sweet or funny, and you forgot all about the bad times).  And also feeling that I took a step forwards in my career (hopefully).  And of course spending time with friends and doing things that I like such as blogging and reading blogs.

    Sweetness most of the time

    Who did you miss?
    Our family and friends who we don't see that often since the move to Belgium :(

    Best new people you met?
    Well, in addition to the obvious reply, our latest family addition Harald, our new friends P & O here in Brussels.  We had met P a couple of times before, and I knew her through our blogs, but we hadn't met O and the children before. 

    Our happy boy in October 2013

    Most proud of?
    Landing a new job in terms of my own accomplishments, but otherwise of Isolde who is doing so great in her new country and her new preschool.  She just loves her school and talks about as soon as she opens her blue eyes in the  morning.  And also of how she learnt to go to the toilet and other perhaps small but still big things, like put her own jacket on.

    Spring 2013

    Greatest wish right now?
    That we make our life here in Brussels work, especially after the summer when we're both meant to work.  Making sure we have work-life balance and the kids are alright, also once we are two people working, one child at school and one child in the crèche.

    What will you do differently next year?
    Several things: stop procrastinating and waiting until last minute to do stuff, go to bed earlier, stop biting my nails, do some sort of exercise once a week, tell my husband I love him more often, have more sex (with said husband of course), get all our photos organised finally...

    Plans for 2014?
    Stay in Brussels beyond the summer, provided my contract gets extended and Peter finds a job.  Maybe rent a house after our current rental contract expires.  Make new friends in Brussels.  Have fun!