I like the "Thursday in bullet points" that Annika started so will try to post a list every Thursday at least, even if there's no time to write much else (and I'll try to join the Friday Gallery crowd too).
- To pick up where I left off last, Isolde is still enjoying maternelle. She did have a dip after that first week and after the weekend, where she was really miserable on the following Monday and Tuesday, and didn't want to go and was very upset when we left her. But Wednesday it was a little bit better and Thursday and Friday she was back to her happy self, and skipping into the classroom. The week after went well, not a single tear, and this week has been the same. She has a new teacher - unfortunately the first one was only substituting while the ordinary teacher was recovering from appendicitis - but the ordinary one seems good too, even if she isn't as sweet as the old one (and the new one doesn't speak English, which the old one did*).
- Last week I attended a two-hour parent-teacher conference in French and even though I didn't understand more than a third of the words spoken, I think I got the gist of it. I was pretty tired afterwards after all that concentrating! We first gathered in the refectory for the first 45 minutes or so and then continued in the classroom for class specific information with the teacher. It was interesting to find out a little bit more about a day at preschool, or half-a-day in Isolde's case. For example, in the morning they assemble and sing a welcome song and go through who's there and what day it is. They have a painting of the school building where they put cutout dolls made of photos of the children and the school mascot to show who's at school that day. And they learn the names of the days of the week through putting a different stuffed animal in the basket for that day. Isolde's favourite activity at preschool is painting and gymnastics.
- We've had our first "dinner party", to which we invited our friends Chris and Jacqui whom we know from Stockholm (C. and I used to be colleagues) and who have been living here now for three years but will sadly move to the UK in April. We took the opportunity to eat some crayfish for our starter dish, since we had discovered that Ikea sold crayfish packets. They were actually pretty good, considering they came from Ikea! C. also invited us to join them for "champagne tea" at the British Embassy, which sounds fancy but was a low-key affair, although the surroundings were very nice as the Residence of the Ambassador (or Ambassadors, as the ambassadors to Belgium, EU and Nato share the building for entertainment purposes) is an old château-like house, which has recently been refurbished to its original glory. It was the first time since we moved here that we had available babysitters - Peter's parents - so it was nice to get away just the two of us for a few hours.
- We've had our first sets of visitors (not counting my mother who accompanied us when we arrived and stay over that first weekend). Our friends Maria and Daniel were here this past weekend and Peter's parents the weekend before. Now we have a "free" weekend before my parents arrive next Thursday. When Peter's parents were here we mostly hung out in the neighbourhood, as they lived in Brussels for three years in the mid-2000s and know the city very well already, but as M & D had never been here we spent Saturday exploring the usual tourist sites including Grand Place and Manneken Pis. We took both sets of visitors to a brasserie in Parc Woluwe , as they serve great food but also have a playground, and we'll probably take my parents there too. Otherwise we had almost all meals at home, and took the opportunity to have three-course dinners and drink plenty of nice wine. When Peter's parents visited Sunday was a car-free day as part of mobility week, so it was a perfect day for a long walk, and we took M & D on a similar walk to show them our beautiful neighbourhood. We were very lucky with the weather both weekends, especially this past weekend (and today it was 20 degrees and I had lunch outside with some work colleagues).
- We celebrated our dear neighbours' son V's second birthday, and of course the arrival of his baby sister E a few days before. I visited P and E in the hospital and it was interesting to see the insides of a Belgian maternity ward and hear about giving birth in Belgium. Not that dissimilar from Sweden but at the same time some differences in practices and methods.
- The "honeymoon" at work is over and I've started being quite busy, which is fun but also a bit "scary" since there's still so much to learn. Today I had to give a presentation to a group of Swedish visitors. It was on quite basic stuff but since I only found out about it yesterday - my colleague who was supposed to present has back problems and couldn't come to work - it resulted in a little bit of nervousness. It went well, but they had a few tricky questions that I had to admit I couldn't answer right now. Anyway, good to have that first presentation out of the day! I have also been to my first conference and also attended several training courses. Next week I'm doing a three-day course that is mandatory when you're new, Working for the EU, which I'm really looking forward to.
- Peter has taken Harald to the child health centre (called ONE here; BVC in Sweden), once just for a weigh-in a couple of weeks ago, and for a check-up, vaccination and weigh-in this week. He's now 9 kg and 67 cm tall (or short, as he hasn't grown much length-wise in the last month). He's starting to crawl now and he also wants to stand up - holding our hands or standing against a piece of furniture - all the time. But more about Harald in a separate post!
- We now have a dishwasher since a couple of weeks back - having to live without one our first few weeks here was horrible haha!
- I've tried to start going to bed earlier now that I'm a working girl, but usually I'm failing, and so too tonight as the time is already 23:30. But it's Thursday and only one more working day, so I don't care! But Sunday night onwards it's bedtime at 10pm! Wish me luck, I need it :)
* I'm astonished over how few speak English here, especially (or mainly) among the Francophone (the Flemish are better), even young(ish) people, and even among those with higher education, e.g. teacher and doctors.