Saturday, August 31, 2013

Our First Week In Brussels

Our first week in Belgium is over.  There are still boxes everywhere but it's been a good week and we're really feeling at home in the flat.  I can feel that we'll be happy here. 

This is what we've been up to:

We had been told the movers would arrive Monday or Tuesday but when I still hadn't heard anything Sunday evening I emailed them and around 10pm I was told that they would come already Monday around 3pm.  We got a bit worried because the company was supposed to reserve a part of the street to park the lorry, something which needs to be done in advance, at least 48 hours before but preferably earlier, but Sunday evening this hadn't been done.  So Monday morning I texted the driver to alert him to the fact and also informed him when they called a bit later to check the address (which they should have had but apparently they had brought an old work order). It wasn't their fault of course but they're the ones that need to deal with it.  Luckily when they did arrive, already at 13:00, there was space at the bottom of our street but it meant that they had to haul our boxes quite far.

Can you spot the lorry at the bottom of the street?

There were two of them and Peter helped put so they were done within an hour.  We started unpacking in the evening, but didn't get that far, but it was good to start to get the kitchen ready and at least the boxes were still neatly stacked at that point.

Shortly after this photo was taken it did not look this organised anymore...

Tuesday was a stressful day relating to our flat in Stockholm.  The tenants have been great so far but our condominium association a pain in...  Luckily it's now sorted, for now at least (and I'm grateful to Peter for dealing with all of it!).  We didn't get much unpacking done on Tuesday but in the evening we had time to switch the guest room and the kids' room.  We opted for a smaller children's room and a bigger guest room (though both rooms are small, maybe 8 sqm), mainly because I didn't want the children's room to have a balcony for safety reasons.  Also, it's nice for the guests to be able to move around a little bit in the room and have a "private" balcony, and the kids will play a lot in the kitchen/living room (open plan) anyway I'm sure. For the moment Harald will continue to sleep in our room so Isolde has a little bit more space in her room.  Harald sleeps through the night (from 21-22 to 07) and is not easily disturbed so he could easily share with Isolde, but for the same reason, he can also stay with us as we don't disturb each other.  Isolde on the other hand, when she was a baby, moved to her own room at age 4-5 months as she was making a lot of noise in her sleep and we also seemed to disturb her sleep.

As you can see it's quite small.  If Harald's bed was in there too, we'd have it by the window opposite Isolde's bed, and put the white table away or somewhere else.  The bed, rug and curtains, as well as the shelves in the next picture, came with the flat but we brought the rest from Sweden.

Once Harald moves in here it will be pretty crowded in that righthand corner...

Tuesday we also checked out a big playground near us, Parc Malou - about 15 minutes by foot (either through streets or on La Promenade Verte) or a few minutes by car.

The playground continues to the right of this picture so it's very large.

I went into town to have lunch with two colleagues.  It was a really nice (on the rooftop terrace of my colleague's new flat in the centre of Brussels) and useful lunch.  While at lunch I felt really excited and was looking forward to starting to work on Monday but then when I got back home and had a cuddle with my family I instead felt really jealous of Peter who will be home with the kids.  In reality it's mixed of course.  I know I will love work but at the same time I will really miss the children, and especially Harald of course as I'm used to being with him 24/7.  Oh how I wish I could have the cake and eat it! 

Wednesday afternoon we went over to our friends C and J (although just J and the baby were home), as J was going to help us call (our French is very rusty and over the telephone when you don't see the person it's even more difficult) the school where Isolde will go but they had already left for the day, as term doesn't start until next week.  She called for us the next morning instead and also made an appointment for us with the headmistress for Thursday afternoon.

We had to visit the mothership, aka Ikea, of course, and not just for fun, we needed stuff :)  This flat is great in most ways but what it doesn't have is storage, and we brought a lot of stuff with us from Sweden, so we bought a few canvas storage bags/boxes to store linen, towels and clothes (e.g. the kids' clothes and shoes in the next sizes) underneath our bed and the guest beds. We may buy an extra wardrobe or chest of drawers later depending on how we get on with the existing wardrobes. We also bought some pillows, hangers, minor kitchen items, and (frozen) meatballs, and of course, sweets (lördagsgodis!), and the following day Peter went back to buy a mattress, furniture for the balconies and the top part to Isolde's toy kitchen.

Thursday afternoon we visited Isolde's new (pre)school to register her, and checked our her classroom and play grounds.  The premises are a bit rundown but the teachers (and the headmaster) seemed cheerful and the atmosphere was nice and welcoming. She'll start on Monday 9 September - but more about that in a different post!

Yesterday we went to register at the muncipality (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre commune) in the morning (until you're registered in Belgium it's very difficult to do something, e.g. to get mobile phone accounts) and after that Peter did his round at Ikea while the kids and I hung out at home.  In the afternoon Peter took them to the playground for a couple of hours while I got some unpacking done at home.  Finally we can see the kitchen counters and floor and Isolde has books to read (in the guest room) and all their clothes are unpacked.  I also did several loads of laundry (also earlier in the week), and since the weather has been nice all week I've hung it to dry outside.  Love the smell of airdried laundry, especially sheets and towels!

Today we headed out pretty early (10ish) to meet (blog friend and now lovely neighbour) P, O and V to check out the local market (where I also ran into an old mate from Oxford who I hadn't seen for ten years - we agreed to organise a playdate with his kids and mine) and to fika at a local café (will write more about the area later), and afterwards we checked out another playground nearby (which was almost empty - where is everyone?!) and walked a bit down La Promenade Verte before returning to the flat for some further unpacking while the kids napped.  In the afternoon we checked out another supermarket and before dinner Peter cycled with Isolde to Parc Malou while Harald and I chilled at home.  And in the evening, more unpacking in between fighting with Isolde about peeing on the potty/toilet (more on that later) and going to bed... :)

So that pretty much sums up our first week in Belgium.  It has only rained one day so every day we have spent quite a lot of time outside and made at least one stop to the local playground.  We have also checked out almost all nearby supermarkets, both the big ones and the smaller express ones (more on Belgian supermarkets and foot items in a later post). 

With two kids unpacking is a bit of a challenge... You have to make a lot of time for playtime (thus all the playground visits) and also for cuddles.  Harald doesn't care where he is of course, as long as he's fed and cuddled, but Isolde is of course aware that we've made a change in our lives and that everything is new.  I'm really amazed how well she's handling it.  There are lots of tantrums of course, not that many more than normal for her/her age, but she's been acting up a little bit when we haven't had time for her (we have to devote time to unpacking of course), and it's also her way of dealing with this big change in her life.  Her way of causing trouble usually revolves around Harald.  Sometimes she just wants to cuddle with him but more often she wants to irritate him by laying on top of him or pushing him down when he wants to sit up and she thinks he should lie down so she can finger his ear.  She's also very strong-willed and the other day she was angry with us because she wanted ice cream (really frozen Danonini yoghurt) but we said that she had to eat dinner first.  After about 10-15 minutes she "caved" and was becoming calm on my lap and then that question came: "when are we going home?" I said that this is our home now for a while and that all our stuff is here, that her toys are here.  After that she was happy again and she ate her dinner (with ice cream for dessert).  It's like she needed to talk about it, but that was it, she was happy with the answer.  That was it, at least right there and then; it's probably not the last time she'll ask or miss our (old) home.  It was one of those moment where love your child so much you want to squeeze her.  Both Peter and I had tears in our eyes and felt so proud of her for being able to voice her feelings.  Our little big girl.  Lately, I'm not sure if it's the age, or because shes recently had a sibling, or if it's related to the move, but she's been telling us a lot that she's "stor" (big) and that Harald is little.  I sometimes call her "min stora bebis" (my big baby) but she's started saying that no, she's a big girl.  So cute. 

Good learning swing at our nearest playground


  1. Kul att läsa om er första vecka och era intryck även om jag ju redan visste vad ni hittat på ;-) och tack för att du inte nämnde att jag tappade bort V igår när vi fikade!

  2. Petchie - Haha, tänkte nämna det först, och bajsexplosionen, men så tänkte jag att det får du blogga om själv i så fall :) Kram!

    Katta - Det kan man kalla det. Hoppas på lite lugnare den här veckan iaf vad gäller uppackning bland vidla ungar men tvivlar på det haha. Säkert värre med tanke på att jag kommer vara trött efter arbetsdagen ;)

  3. Kul att läsa om hur ní haft det den här första tiden. Det är klart att det blir en stor omställning för Isolde, men hon och ni verkar hantera det jättebra.
    Hoppas att ni kommer att trivas och lycka till med förskolestart och jobbstart!

  4. Än så länge går det bra men Isolde är ju fortfarande i trotsåldern och det märks ju ibland att hon såklart påverkas av detta också vilket gör trotset värre och hon sover lite dåligt ibland. Men ändå, under omständigheterna, så går det bra! Själv är det mycket information för mig att ta in (hade ju stängt av hjärnan ett tag också eftersom jag var på mammaledighet innan haha) och det känns som dagarna är låånga och jag längtar efter barnen. Har ju längre dagar än förut också med lite längre arbetsdag än mitt förra jobb och lite längre resväg. Men jag vänjer mig väl! Och det är ju som tur är väldigt kul och intressant!