Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Belgium Trip

We drove in two vehicles since we only have 12 seats and we had 14 people.  I drove the bus and Brian drove the fun car.  However, on the way home the fun car started having big trouble so it is not being driven by anybody now until we get it fixed.  It was our third car anyways and we knew the transmission was on it's way out.  That's why Brian already had bought another car and was driving it to work.  I'd been using the third car to do small errands since it gets better gas mileage.

I digress.  So we headed first to Ghent first.  All the restaurants that we had previously chosen were closed, so we had to pick one on the fly.  The place the men chose was, of course, for it's beer advertised.  It had omelets and burgers and was really another excellent meal.  Judah and I shared a ham and pineapple omelet and it was sooo good.  I'll have to make that some time.  I had a Kriek, which is a Belgium cherry beer that I like.  They had no high chairs so Bob had to sit in a real chair.  Usually they'll be a booth or something, but this was his first real chair experience.  He handled it like a champ.  I was nervous at first that he'd fall off, but he is a cautious boy and not as active as some (eh hem, Drew).

Bobby's first time we didn't have a high chair and I didn't have to hold him...He did so well!  He not once got down or fell out.  Yay, for Bobby!  Drew wouldn't have survived at this age; he was so much trouble.
There was a Christmas market still going on, probably no longer called a Christmas market.  Maybe it was a Sylvester market or something, but it looked just like a Christmas market.  I bought a paper star that you hang over a light bulb dangling from the ceiling.  It's a popular decoration at Christmastime.  We had some hot chocolate because it is always so very cold!  We went into St. Bovo's Cathedral.  It was a pretty amazing church.  The reason for choosing this church to go into on our one day in Ghent was to see The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a polyptyc by the Van Eyck brothers.  However, we only saw a reproduction through a gate.  Unbeknownst to us, they have the real one off being restored currently.  It was still worth the visit.  It was really a beautiful church on the inside.  After that we went back to the cars and drove to Brian's favorite beer heaven.  The kids rested in the warm van while the dads walked around the biggest beer mart ever, at least with these quality of beers, for an hour or more.  We are really good wives.  AmIright?

Then we went to our place in Knokke-Heist, Belgium.  It was very spacious and had four floors.  The girls and Bobby had the whole top floor because it was just one big room with two twin beds.  Bobby had a hard time sleeping past 4:30am the first two nights, but he eventually got tired enough.

The next morning we went to Brugges on the train.  We went to the Church of Our Lady in Bruges that had the Madonna of Brugges by Michelangelo.  You paid to get in, but not much.  We looked around the small church and saw many beautiful paintings and architecture.

The Madonna of Brugges is in the center behind the cuties.

We returned to the Moules Poules, where we had been so pleased with in our last trip to Brugges after being refused seating at two other restaurants, one can only assume because of the size of our brood.  The food was just as delightful as last time and the service was excellent.  The older half of the kids all ate mussels.  I tasted my first gin and tonic there and it was actually good.  I normally do not like that kind of thing.

I picked up a bunch of small lace appliques that I am thinking I will keep and sew onto something one day for my grandchildren unless I find a better use for them before that.  I also got a coin purse for all my Euro coins to keep them separate from my US coins.  The kids got some chocolates and saw some of the production of it.  Mussels.  Lace.  French Fries.  Chocolates.  Waffles.  Beer.  That sums up almost all the important things to experience in Brugges.  The Holy Blood being the only other thing.  That was for the next day.

The bell tower in the main square
Before taking the train back to our place, I found a waffle bar that was quick, easy, cheap, and delicious.  The train ride back proved adventurous.  Can you even believe when it stopped at our stop that the button to open the door wouldn't work and the train moved on without letting us or another family off??!!  I certainly couldn't believe it.  We had to get off at the next stop.  Then the guys were figuring out when the next train would come going back the other way.  I google mapped it and it said it would take only 7 minutes to get to our apartment walking.  So we started to walk and I pushed "start."  The phone quickly flashed "Safe driving" and I realized that I hadn't been in walking mode after all like I thought.  I switched it and it was a 20 minute walk instead.  It did go by fast.  We played the ABC game with things we saw that day in Brugges.  The kids thought it was fun and barely noticed we were walking.

The next day, we went back into Brugges and went to Mass in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Blood.  If you ever go here, you kind of have to be assertive about wanting to go to Mass.  They will try not to let you in thinking you're just a tourist, but if you push on the door and say you are here for Mass they will actually let you stay.  Kind of strange.  Bobby was super good and quiet at this Mass, possibly because he saw an apple in my bag and I just let him have it rather than deal with a fit for not letting him eat in Mass.  Sometimes, you've gotta be flexible.  This was one of those times when it's better to let the baby eat on an apple than to have to take him out at the beginning of Mass into the cold and probably not be let back in.

Afterwards we went up stairs to see Jesus's blood in a vial.  They only bring it out at certain times of the day and allow people to go up to see it, touch it, and pray.   This was my second time to see it, but it was everyone else's first time.  It's a beautiful experience, not to be missed if you are in the city of Brugges.  When we came out of the church there was a food market set up outside that was amazing.  We bought fresh fruits, chicken, and potatoes for our lunch.

We had planned to then take our cars to Ypers.  There are battle fields, cemeteries, museums (that close entry minutes before you get there at 4:06), and another after Christmas market.  We visited what we could of those in the time we had.  We had dinner and then caught the Last Post which is kind of like Taps, but for the World War I soldiers specifically.

We told them they probably shouldn't smile in this one, and all put on quite the sad faces.

This was the first trip that I wore this hat on and I didn't realize I wasn't getting it one right and making it slouchy in the back.  Just in case you were wondering why I would have chosen to wear a white version of a Dr. Seuss hat, there you have it.  It was not until I looked back at all the pictures of the week that I realized how silly I looked.

The next day was a travel day, but we had to drop our friends off at the airport in Brussels, so we tried to stop there to have lunch and look around.  First we stopped at the cathedral.  The children, apparently spoiled by the churches we've been seeing, refer to this as the ugly modern one.

It wasn't ugly outside, but then again it wasn't beautiful either.  It was, however, huge.

He has so many little mothers.  He's going to be something else when he grows up.
 However, it was difficult to find a parking spot in the city and when we did it looked like a scary area, so we drove by the Manequin Pis and waved at it.  Then we went to Waterloo to have lunch there.  Again Bob didn't have a highchair, but he was fine.

And I guess that's it, but it was a lot!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Souflenheim Day Trip: Crepe Edition

Our best traveling buddies came to stay with us for a few days before we set out for a trip to Belgium together.  One of those days was a ladies'day out.  We went to Souflenheim, France, a pottery village.  I've been there before with Brian and got a few pieces.  Since then I'd heard about this amazing creperie and thought that would be a fun day trip with my France-loving friend.  We went and I came home with this beauty...

It is big enough to feed my family and it has an Alsatian stork on it, which were my two goals.  It is supposed to fit in my oven if I take out all of the trays and turn it diagonal.  We'll see!  I haven't tried it yet.  They had it on display in a tiny oven so I am hoping it will work.  If not it'll have to wait until we get back to the land of everything big, AKA the USA.

The creperie was delicious and I really want to go back during spargel season now because they have a spargel crepe on the menu that is only served during that time. Spargel is a white asparagus grown in Europe.  I got two savory crepes and my friend got two sweet ones.  I am looking forward to another trip there.

This is what the guys did with the kids while we were gone.  They went on a walk in and around our village.  Again, Hannah volunteered to stay behind and babysit the nappers.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gutenberg and the Printing Press

We went to Mainz with our friends to visit the Gutenberg museum.  There is a lot to look at there, including two of the first Gutenberg Bibles.  There are many displays with descriptions that are in both English and German.  They show a video about Gutenberg and the development of the printing press in English at certain times.  We also watched a demo of the printing press, although it was all in German.

The individual letter molds

After the demo

Gutenberg statue

Hannah, my true bibliophile seemed to really enjoy this day trip.  She kept wishing her friends from Maryland could see this or that which was sweet.  She took a few pictures to send to them.  She doesn't enjoy many of our trips lately so it was good to see her happy about one.

St. Boniface statue
We have read about him and learned about his major invention and how it revolutionized society and this was a great field trip to actually see a printing press.

Luckily, these boys had each other because they really didn't care one bit about the printing press.

Of course, there is always this wherever we go, but usually not quite so much.  They both argued with us that it is about what they'd normally drink at a meal with all the sharing and size of the mugs taken into account.

Our Best European Traveling Buddies

Shortly after Christmas, the godfather left and new visitors arrived.  We picked them up in Cologne and had lunch before going to the cathedral.


Cologne Cathedral

Holy Baby in a Backpack

This cathedral has the tombs of the Three Wise Men.

The next morning we had a mini Christmas with a breakfast casserole and gifts to share.

The kids  and dads had all been waiting to see Rogue One together, so they went the first chance they got.  We had kind of a down day that day and the other days we had plans before we all left for Belgium together.

Oh, and there was New Year's Eve.  We had plans to all go to a party together, but I got cold feet about taking Bobby out so late and we were unsure if it was going to be all outside or not.  Th party wasn't even beginning until after his bedtime.  Turned out we were just outside for the fireworks right at midnight.  But it was absolutely freezing.  So I am super glad that we left the youngest three at home sleeping and in the care of the antisocial Hannah.  Not that I am complaining about her not liking parties.  It seems to finally be working to our advantage.

Sorry for the scant details on this post.  I'm trying to get caught up!