Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This side of normal

I have ordered a novel today, from Amazon.com. It's a book written by Eric Devine, called "This side of normal". Eric got diabetes type 1 as a young child. 18 years later, Eric is a teacher and an author. This statement on his blog www.ericdevine.wordpress.com made me decide to buy the novel:

When you live with diabetes, "Life" often gets lost in the details. You test, you take your medicine, you eat, and you repeat the process, forever. This daily regimen can make you myopic, and I lived with such blindness for a decade.

I have been looking for some new books and I'm pretty sure I will read this one as soon as it gets here. I like to read about diabetes and especially life stories draw my attention. I have accepted D, and it's a big part of my life. You are confronted with D 24/7. It's always there. It's a lifetime partner. People die, friendships fade, marriages fail, children grow up, but the diabetes will always be there. It's kind of your companion, although you didn't choose this kind of companionship.
I'm looking forward to reading the book and I hope it will give me even more insight in my own diabetes.


Make up your mind

If only I could.. It's hard, it's complicated, it's final. I have to make up my mind, but I don't know which decision is the best. I have thought it over, and over and over, but I still don't know what to do. What a chaos. I know I want to go through with it, but at the same time, it scares me. What if things don't turn out the way they are supposed to? What if things are not what I expected them to be? What if I'll regret my decision?
But on the other hand: if I don't do anything, I will never know. Maybe I'll regret never having gone through with it. I'm awaiting some more advice and comments from respected people before I make my final decision. Please stand by me in whatever I decide to do. I will need all the support I can get..


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Q

There's always music in this house. There are radios all over the place and as soon as I get up in the morning, I need to turn the radio on, even before I make myself a cup of coffee. My favorite channel is Q-music. I love to listen to Kurt and Sven, they are great! They are so funny and entertaining, they make my day!
I can't imagine life without music. Music cheers you up whenever you feel down. It makes you wanna dance - that doesn't mean I will dance! - and it brightens up your life. At least it brightens my life. I don't have that many CD's and mostly, I listen to CD's in the car. Those CD's are mostly Musical CD's or Arabic music, since I don't ever hear that kind of music on the radio.

So thank you Q-music, for cheering me up!


We've been down that road before

Earlier this year, I had a first experience working as a personal assistant, for a disabled lady who needed an extra pair of hands. Yesterday I had a job interview with another courageous disabled lady, who happens to live real close to our house. She's a jolly and entertaining woman and we did a lot of chit chatting. We discussed our wishes concerning the job contents and the job is really appealing to me.

Just a little while after I got home, she called me and asked me if I could start October 1st. What do you think? Of course! It's good to have a job again and I have the feeling we'll get along well. Being a personal assistant is a great and fulfilling job and I'm looking forward to it. I'll be helping her out every Tuesday and Thursday. She's a very outgoing person and she loves to go to the mall, to go for a walk, to go out and have a bite in a nice restaurant.
Let's hope her wheel chair isn't too big for my car. If it is, we can still try out hubby's beamer. I believe his trunk to be bigger.

I haven't told Rebba yet. One day a week, she will have to be all by herself. I don't know yet how she will respond to that. Maybe the neighbors can help me out and come and check on her once in a while? I'll ask them today.

It feels awkard and strange, to go back to work. But then again, I'm looking forward to it and I'm confident we will get along just fine.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Every little thing she does is magic


I'm so proud of my children. They are becoming fine young ladies. Today, I wanted to share with you how proud I am about our eldest daughter. There hasn't been a single thing she does, that she doesn't do well. She's very motivated in whatever she does. Whether it's school or dancing or having friends, she does well. Her latest hobby is photography. We have recently bought a new camera and because the camera is rather expensive, we decided that the children could not use it. Every now and then, Lana would ask me if she could make some pictures when I was around. I could see how gentle she was with the camera and how she had studied the manual. So I let her try it out, but I kept an eye on her. I must admit: she's really good at taking pictures. She has a good eye for photography. Without bragging about it, I know I can take good pictures. But I truly believe Lana has more talent. She also has a very steady hand, so her pictures are sharp and clean. I have the feeling that she prefers to take nature pictures over portraits, which are my favorite photography subject.
Lana, I'm proud of you! I tell you once in a while, and you don't have that much selfworth yet that you truly believe it. But I showed your latest pictures to a whole lot of people, and their comments touched you after all. I'm sure you were proud of you too!

ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY LANA JOOS



They didn't think much of it

Although Americans didn't think much of it at first, Thomas De Geest is a righteous winner of the Vendy Awards 2009. wafelsanddinges

Americans are fond of food sold in the streets. If you've been to the States, I'm sure you have had a hotdog or a corndog on the corner of the street and you must at least have had one warm pretzel before you headed back to Europe. Thomas De Geest, who previously worked for IBM as a consultant, gave up his job and started his own streetvendor business. Since he's from Belgium, what could be a better idea than starting to vend this Belgian specialty: Belgian Waffles! We don't have our waffles for breakfast, we have them a little different than Americans normally do. We have them in the afternoon or we order some if we go out for coffee in the city. Of course we want strawberries and cream on top, but sometimes we eat them plain, or just dusted with powdered sugar. Those are the famous Brussels Waffles.
Have you ever scented the smell of a fresh baked, warm "Luikse" Waffle? They are just packed with sugar lumps, all sticky but oh so yummy! If you smell a fresh baked Luikse Waffle, you just have to have one. I'm so proud of Thomas De Geest, that he has introduced this special treat to the American people.

Maybe one day, when I get the chance to visit the States again, I will run into one of the vendor carts of Thomas De Geest in the Manhattan area. I'll let you know if I did.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Momnesia

Have you ever forgotten to pick up your children from music class?
Did you forget to cook your children dinner, because you were too busy answering those emails?
Or maybe you have so much help from others, that you are the perfect mom, that has tons of time to spend on her baby..

If you are in the last category, you're lucky but you're also rare. Not many moms have the luxury to have a nanny or a live in au pair. Being a mom is pretty darn hard. It's more than a full time job. It's 24/7! Did anybody ever warn you about that, when you were so busy getting pregnant? What a joke..

Having kids is wonderful and they add so much more to our life, really. I love them to pieces and I would pull out my hair if something happened to one of them. Some days though, I ask myself: how do all these moms keep working full time, when they also have a husband and children to take care off? How do they do it??? How do they cook fresh meals every day, drive their offspring to all different activities, find the time to be a reading mom in school and organize the most wonderful birthday parties ever? I've been working on and off and every time I'm a stay-at-home-mom, I have time to take a breath and enjoy my children. Whenever I'm at work, I'm totally stressed, because I do not want to give up on my own activities, my children's activities, fresh cooked home made meals, all of that combined with a full time job.
I'm looking for a new job and at the same time, it scares me to be a working mom again. It's so hectic to do everything and to have so little time for yourself. I'm very fortunate to have a husband who helps out a lot in the house and with the children, I know that. I've seen oh so many other men... But still, organization of the household is not the piece of cake some women talk about. Either they fool themselves, or they do not want to admit it to others. Or maybe they think all other women are superwomen and they need to be one too! So that's when they end up being depressed and overworked and on their way to the looney world.

So Momnesia is something we have to deal with. It might get better once the children get older.. I guess. Because no matter how old our children will be, we will always be a mother. Maybe by the time they will be old enough to take care of themselves, Momnesia will have turned in to Amnesia. Bless us, moms..


I don't want to miss a thing

September 2007. Belgium finally has its own diabetes forum. Our little conservative country didn't think a diabetes forum could be of any use to anyone. Until this wonderful man from Holland decided to help us out and offered us a free forum, where we can exchange experiences, laugh, share emotions and advice one another.
I don't want to miss a thing. That's why I start my notebook as soon as I get up in the morning, to check the forum and see how my friends are doing. And very often, I'm the last to go to bed.
I have met nearly 50 members of our forum. With some, I have a more intense contact, but they are all special to me. I would like to meet all the active members and tell them: "Diabetes is ok. You can still have a life. It's no fun to have diabetes, but you will survive. We're here, to help you and stand by your side, when things are not going the way you want them to go. Don't let the diabetes rule your life, but take good care of yourself. We owe it to our bodies.."
Dear sugar babes, you are sweet.. Without the diabetes, we might never have met.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A day off

If you don't work, it's not easy to say: today, I'm taking the day off! But you know what? I don't have to ask anyone to take the day off, I just do.
So my friend and I spent a great day in Bruges. She cooked me a wonderful pasta at home, before we headed off to this authentic and vivid city. It didn't take us very long to buy shoes... what did you expect? A woman cannot shop without buying shoes, right? And new shoes require a new purse and that new purse was begging for a new wallet. And the new wallet needed money to fill up the gaps. I told you there were too many days in September.
Bruges is such a lovely town. I enjoy looking at the tourists, sitting on a terrace, enjoying a perfect glass of Latte Macchiato - don't ask for Doppel Ristretto - , do some shopping. Our poor feet were worn out by the end of the afternoon. Anyway, it was time to pick up our youngest daughter. She was happy to see us and my friend was very interested in seeing her school and hear all about her teen stories.
The sun was out and we enjoyed the ride home, in the convertible. Too bad I have short hair. Having the wind blow through your hair must be a nice experience!
I'm very proud of my friend. She has bought the most wonderful dress, shoes and purse to match. She has lost quite some weight and she looked gorgeous, showing off her new outfit. You rock, girl!


So you think you can dance?

I have told you before: I suck as a dancer, but I love to watch others dance. At least, if they CAN dance. That's why I'm a big fan of SYTYCD. It's on Belgian television now and I don't miss a single episode. The jury is always decent to the dancers and they treat them with respect, even if they suck big time. My favorite members of the jury are Dan Karaty and Euvgenia Parakhina. I love their view on the dancers and the comments they make are interesting and motivating. They know what they are talking about.

The other week some youngsters have tried their best, but they were too young. There were these two bosom friends of 8 and 10. They were absolutely fab! Too bad they were too young, but I'm sure we'll run into them in some other show in the future. The belly dancers didn't do too well. Belly dancing is very nice to watch, but it's too specific for this show.

This week, the 75 yo Leon was the star of the show, ... sort of. He was funny and entertaining, but not good enough for SYTYCD. On the other hand, Valentino was too young to go to bootcamp but oh my gosh...that kid could dance!!

Many tickets have been distributed for Bootcamp. Can't wait to see the next show!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Good vibrations

Our Indian cooking class teacher has taught us to put nothing but positive energy into our food. If you cook while you are angry or upset, your food will not taste good and your family or guests will not enjoy the meal, making them angry or upset as well. Food needs good vibrations! I thought that sounded reasonable and I must say: when I think of it, there surely is some truth to it.
Today I tried my own version of a chicken curry masala. I'm pretty proud of myself for cooking this wonderful meal. It tasted delicious. I guess I was in a happy mood cooking it? LOLZ
Maybe you should try it out at home? This is what you need:
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • oil
  • 2 chicken fillets, cubed
  • cumin seeds
  • ground cumin
  • ground coriander
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in strips
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced in strips
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, cubed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • curry powder
  • turmeric powder
  • salt
  • a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped coarsely
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the bay leaves, the cloves and the cinnamon. Put the lid on so you don't burn yourself when it pops.
Bake the chicken pieces in the oil. Discard the bay leaves, the cloves and the cinnamon. Drain the chicken on paper towel.
Add the other spices, the ginger, onions, garlic, carrot and pepper. Keep stirring on high heat until the contents resembles a concentrated paste. It should look fairly dry. Add the tomatoes and the coconut cream. Season with curry powder, turmeric and salt. The turmeric will color the dish slightly.
Add the chicken pieces en simmer the dish until the meat is cooked and the curry has the desired consistency. Sprinkle the fresh coriander over the dish.


TIP: serve the dish over basmati rice. Cook 1 part of rice for 2 parts of water
TIP: serve with Indian chapati bread
TIP: spice the dish up with finely chopped green chilli. Add the chilli in the beginning.

Michigan City, IN Walk on the Wild Stride 2009: Paula Hook

Michigan City, IN Walk on the Wild Stride 2009: Paula Hook

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Help Paula raise money to find a cure!

Paula Hook is making a difference

Dear friends,

I have met a wonderful set of people on the Internet: the Hook family. I have been in contact with them for about 6 months now and the more I get to know them, the more I like them.

Paula Hook is making a difference. Two of her three daughters have been diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, not even that long ago. Carli and Kati are two gorgeous young women, who want to make the most of their lives. They have not chosen to get Friedreich's Ataxia and so far, there is no cure. FA is an inherited neuromuscular disease, that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. Some symptoms are gait disturbance, speech problems and heart disease. The Ataxia causes coordination problems such as clumsiness or awkward movements and unsteadiness. The nerve tissue in the spinal cord degenerates and muscle movement in arms and legs gets weaker. Many people with FA spend a lot of time in a wheel chair and some are wheelchair bound for the rest of their lives. A blurry speech is another symptom of FA. Please let us give these wonderful people a voice: your voice! Speak for them, convince people to donate in finding a cure..

Please help Paula find a cure for FA, so she can help her daughters and so many others in their struggle against Friedreich's Ataxia. Make a donation on her homepage.

Supporting Paula means supporting the MDA - Muscular Dystrophy Association. With the help of friends like you, MDA continues to be able to provide comprehensive services through local MDA clinics and advance its research efforts to find treatments and cures for over 40 neuromuscular diseases. Friedreich's Ataxia is one of them.

On behalf of the children and adults that will profit from your donation, we extend deep appreciation for your generous support.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Sound of Music

Do, a deer, a female deer
Re, a drop of golden sun
Mi, a name I call myself
Fa, a long long way to run..

I was very curious to see the Dutch version of The Sound of Music, a musical we have cherished for many years. The Belgian cast sounded very promising, so our friend got 8 tickets to go see the performance. He's very good at picking the best seats and as usual, we had a great overview and the audio was super.
I truly enjoyed the musical. The children were adorable, especially the little girl that played Gretl moved me. She was so cute and her voice was hoarse from all the singing. I must say: Deborah De Ridder is Maria...! She's playful, witty, energetic and she has a wonderful voice. She was the star of the night. Captain Von Trapp, played by Peter Van De Velde, was impressing (mainly because of his size) and he and Maria made a good couple. I'm not a big fan of Koen Crucke in musicals, since I keep seeing him as Mr Spaghetti in Samson & Gert - a Belgian children's programme - but I must admit: I really liked him this time. Max Dettweiler was the perfect roll for him. And what a voice Kirsten Cools had! Wow! I was stunned by the performance of Baroness Elza. She's also fun to watch and her voice is very clear and bright. The most impressive voice though - besides the voice of Deborah - was the voice of An Lauwereins, Mother Superior. She had a pretty big roll as well and I liked her singing a lot.
Rolf and Liesl were absolutely fab dancers. "Sixteen going on seventeen" is my favorite song in this musical and they danced a wonderful dance, which boosted the original performance. Rolf - Steven Colombeen - is a very good singer as well.

We surely heard The Sound of Music. It's an old time's favorite and I could watch it over and over again. I was a little disappointed that the Puppet Show was not part of the Dutch version. But the costumes and the decor made me forget about the Puppet Show.

It was a great night! And of course, we had a drink and a bite afterwards, accompanied by many cuddles and friendship. Love you guys! Two more months and we're off to West Side Story in Scheveningen!


What a bummer..


Why having a hamburger on Friday can make you hungry on Monday..


Scientists have discovered that unhealthy fats (like the fats you may find in hamburgers) find their way to the brain real easily. Normally our brain tells us when we have eaten enough. After eating unhealthy food, the brain stops telling us. The consequences are that we keep on eating..
The effect is proven to be so strong, that having a hamburger on Friday can make you feel hungry on Monday, experts of the Texas University stated. Chemistry in the brain can change in a short amount of time. Body fats stored in our body disconnect the system that tells us that we are full. Eating too many fats and unhealthy foods can make you resistant for insulin and leptin.

I hope you'll enjoy your food, the next time you have a burger...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Acceptance

Accepting yourself is the key to happiness. Does that mean I'm happy now? I believe I have accepted the fact that I have diabetes. Somebody told me the other day, that she looked up to me for handling my diabetes so well, considering the extra challenges that interfere with my diabetes. I never looked at it that way. So I thought it over. Am I over it? Have I accepted it? I guess so. It has become a part of me and after 7 years in D-world, it's like it's always been like that. I have asked my children, if they remember the time I didn't have diabetes. They were 5 and 7 when I was diagnosed. They don't remember. They do remember our holiday in the States, the year before diagnosis. But they can't recollect the time I was diabetes-free. They don't even remember the time I used to give myself injections. And I have used syringes for 4 years! I've only been pumping for 3 years.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be without D. Would I do other things? I don't think so. Do I miss out on things? I don't think so. Would life be easier? Although I'm pretty organized by now, life would probably be less complicated without diabetes. Because I do have to remember a lot. On Saturday, I had already left for my Indian cooking classes, when I found out I was running low on insulin. I had to turn the car and drive back home to pick up an extra bottle of insulin. Okay, that was a nuisance, but hey, it was a 10 minute delay, so no big deal.
The friends I have met since I got diabetes, have helped me through this period in my life. They know what it's like, because they've got the same diagnosis. We help each other and I know they are always there. I don't have to explain how I feel when I have a low or how tired I am if my blood sugar has been too high for several days. It's comforting to know there are people around you who know what you're going through. I truly believe it made me accept my diabetes more easily..


100 things your kids may never know about

My husband's grandfather and I bonded real well. We spent quite some time together while we lived with the in-laws for 6 months. He often told me about how many new things had been invented in a short period of time. He remembered riding his horse and cart - not even that long ago - and now people have two cars! He was always startled by the radio in the car. Whenever he heard the radio in the car, he looked out for the marching band, playing the music he heard. It was rather funny but also moving.
In the short period of time that our children have lived on this Earth, some new things have entered our world. Think of the DVD player, Digicorder, MP4, I Phone, flatscreen TV, cell phones, digital cameras, online shopping ..
If I go back some more years, I remember our first microwave, the first computer that entered our house, the walkman I had saved for, the first CD I bought, the Internet, a videorecorder.. I believe there must be 100 things our kids may never know about, if we go back in time far enough. Call it nostalgia.
It's funny to hear your daughter ask how we put those big black CD's in the CD player - she found an old Jesus Christ Superstar record. They like to hear stories about "the old days". To them it's pretty normal to take an airplane to go see other countries. Or to text their friends to tell them what time they are supposed to be in music class. They cannot even imagine what their life would be like without the Internet. They should've worked on the computer 20 years ago, if they think our computer is slow. Or maybe next time they have to give in a school paper, they should try to type it out on a mechanic typing machine, instead of using Word with the spelling check on the portable.

I wonder what the next inventions will be in the 5 years to come. Do you have any idea?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blend in to the wallpaper

I wish I could blend in to the wallpaper... I feel ashamed about my weight. My body doesn't feel like me anymore. It's like living in somebody else's body, like some stranger has taken over my body. I don't recognize me. I don't want to be me right now...
I asked my endocrinologist what we could do about it. He told me it's time to accept my weight. He also told me it's not my fault... It's the diabetes type 1, the insulin resistance, the slow metabolism and the slow digestion. No diet, diet pills or exercise can help me lose weight. Been there, done that. My doctor has confirmed it's very, very hard to lose weight if you have these extra complications. He feels sorry for me, but he can't do much else but comfort me.
I know it's not my fault. I didn't need anyone to tell me so, because I know I don't eat that much and I'm not a fat eater nor a sugar lover. It's good to see it confirmed by a reputable professor, but that doesn't help me to lose any weight, does it?

I'm confused. This is not like anything I had expected from my visit to the doctor. I wish he would have had at least one solution for me. There aren't any. At least not yet, he told me. I have accepted my diabetes and I think I can live a good life with it, although a life without D could be better, without any questions. It's hard to accept the overweight though. It's not something I can grasp right now. It makes me sad, very sad. I feel lost..


Mothers-in-law

There was this mother-in-law, who had three sons-in-law: Thomas, Bert and Dick. She wanted to test them, before they could marry her three daughters. So she took Thomas for a walk to the park. As soon as they passed the lake, she jumped in and screamed for help. Thomas did not hesitate: he took off his shoes and his jacket and dived into the lake to rescue the mother of his soon to be wife. The next morning, a brand new Volkswagen was sitting in front of his house, a beautiful red ribbon around it. A card that accompanied the red ribbon said: Dear Thomas, you appear to be the perfect man for my daughter. Bless you. Thanks, your mother-in-law.
The next day, she asked Bert to go for a walk. As soon as she jumped into the lake, Bert dived in, right after her, without even taking off his shoes or worrying about his leather jacket. The next morning, he found a brand new Audi in front of his house, a beautiful red ribbon around it. A card that accompanied the red ribbon said: Dear Bert, you appear to be the perfect man for my daughter. Bless you. Thanks, your mother-in-law.
The third time, she invited Dick to go for a walk. And yes, she did it again. She jumped into the lake and screamed for help. But unfortunately, Dick didn't budge and he could care less... and the mother-in-law drowned...
The next day, a brand new Mercedes convertible was sitting in his car port, a beautiful red ribbon around it. A card that accompanied the red ribbon said: Dear Dick, you appear to be the perfect man for my daughter. Bless you. Thanks, your father-in-law...


Monday, September 21, 2009

Africa Bambaataa

I was invited to a benefit in Turnhout, to raise money for an African orphanage. A wonderful lady, Salomé, who has her roots in Kenia, has come up with a special project for orphans in Kenia. These children have lost their parents due to different reasons. Salomé wants to give these children a better future, providing them with clothes, food, shelter, education. She has a very big heart and she's looking for other people with a heart, who can help her improve and support her project.
Salomé works for Care Company. Care Company is supporting Salomé with her project. Together, they organized a wonderful evening, as a benefit for the project. There was an African buffet, African gospel singers, a Michael Jackson look-a-like. What really moved me, was the poem by little Charity and little Jesse. The message they brought came out of their heart. They asked us to care for the children in Kenia. We have so much, they have so little. On their own, they can do so little, but together we can do so much..

It's good to attend these benefits once in a while. It makes us humble and again we realize how lucky we are that our children have the chance to grow up in Belgium, having all the benefits of a good education, shelter, food and anything else they might need. Salomé told us that not what we want is important, but what we need. Sometimes we are too greedy and we complain too much about what we can't have. But we forget that many people out there, don't even think of what they would like to have. They are too busy with trying to figure out how to give their family the basic needs..

Something to think about..


Every time you go away

Monday morning, 7:15 AM. It's time to take you to boarding school. You look absolutely pretty in your uniform. We have 40 minutes to chit chat in the car, before I open the trunk of the car to take out your suitcase. You want me to park the car just around the corner instead of right in front of the school. You're growing up and it's not cool to have your mum kiss you in front of all your friends. So I swallow my pride and I hug and kiss you just around the corner. I watch you as you wander off, pulling your suitcase on wheels and carrying a heavy backpack full of school books. I wonder what's going through your mind...
Mostly I sit in the car for a while, with Rebba. We drive off and I take Rebba for a walk in Bruges. It's a nice town and I enjoy the activity and the tourists, packed with cameras, following their guides. I do some shopping before Rebba and I head home. It's quiet in the house. I turn on the radio and listen to the songs we both like. You're on my mind a lot. But I know you're happy. I know it's all very exciting to you and you enjoy being in boarding school. I miss you. I'm sure you miss us too.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pain

I know you're hurting and you're in pain. You got news that was so devastating to you. It tore you apart. You'll have to deal with it, although anyone would want to stick their head in the sand and forget about it. Unfortunately that's not how it works. You will have to deal with the pain and the emotions. Both of you are riding on an emotional rollercoaster now and I wish I could make things better for you. Don't loose faith. Things will get better. Things will work out for you in the end. I'm thinking of you. A lot. A whole lot..


Busted!

There's this awful smell in the house. Ouch... has somebody eaten white beans around here? Did I use too many onions in the Mexican dish? I know it wasn't me, producing that toxic smell!!!
I tried to locate where the smell came from, checking the bathroom and the ladies room. Nope. Nothing bad down there. I moved on, checking the kitchen and the dining room. I was getting closer, because I could smell it again and it was not getting any better either! As soon as I reached the couch, there was a four legged animal hiding her head behind the pillows. But she couldn't hide the smell she was producing: you're busted Rebba!!! You little stinky dog!!!!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sexual fluidity

Has it occurred to you, that people, after they get divorced, sometimes choose a new partner of the same sex? It must be really awkward, if you have always been straight and then you find out that you really aren't. It's not that all of a sudden you become gay or something. It's more like loving the person for who that person is, without looking at the sex. People still feel uncomfortable around people that have a different sexual preference than they do. It's like they feel threatened in some way. I have gay friends and I have a friend that loves both men and women. It's interesting that people always want to pigeonhole others. They want to know about your sexual preference, like it matters to them. It's not something you choose, so what's the big deal? Maybe it's more important to know that you are loved and that you love back, whether you are gay or straight or anything in between. Having interest in the same sex and the opposite sex, doesn't automatically mean you are bisexual. It's pretty normal you know.

Kinsey has looked into this matter a long time ago. He's come up with a scale, name it the Kinsey scale, and you can test to see how you score on this scale. Not that it's important to me what preference you have, but just out of interest. We're human after all and humans are curious and love to do tests.
Being gay is not about sexuality, it's all about identity. It's about who you are from within.

There's not really a Kinsey test you can take, to see whether you are straight or gay or something in between. The scale is purely a method to evaluate yourself, based on your own personal experience. The rating you choose my change over time.
As you can see on the scale, it ranges from 0, for those who would identify themselves as purely heterosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with the same sex ; to 6, for those who would identify themselves as purely homosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with those of the opposite sex.
The scale 1-5 is for those who would identify themselves with varying levels of desire or sexual activity with either males or females.
Only 6% is purely within range 0 or 6. Now that is a surprise, isn't it? Then why is it so hard for us people, to acknowledge our dark side?

Don't worry. I'm still in love with my husband and I have never been sexually involved with a woman. Relax, will you?

RatingDescription
0Exclusively heterosexual
1Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3Equally heterosexual and homosexual; bisexual.
4Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6Exclusively homosexual
XAsexual, Non-Sexual

Money talks

If you have money, it's easy to say money is not that important.
If you have no money, you wish you had it so it could make you happy.

Does money really make one happy? We need a certain amount of money to live, that's a fact. It would be real hard nowadays to survive in this world without any money. Do we need heaps of money, like the kind of money superstars earn? I think it might be nice for some time, to be able to buy whatever you feel like. Until it comes to a point that you can no longer dream your dreams or look forward to something. If you always have the finances to buy whatever you're longing for, what else is left to live for?
Money talks and money opens many doors. Money gives you different kinds of friends. Too much money can make you attractive for wrong friends. Not enough money might lock you out.

I find it intriguing that these pieces of paper, that you can rip apart in seconds, have so much meaning to them. From the day you are born, money gets involved, until the day you die and many many days after your death. It wouldn't be the first family fighting over the inheritance of a deceased beloved one.

I know this rich man, who has been divorced and in a new relationship. They have agreed to live together under the terms that she gets free food and housing. In return she takes care of him and fulfils all of his needs. If he dies first, she may continue to live in his house until she dies. But it will never be her own house. It's an agreement. His children come visit on their birthday and around Christmas. Because that's when they get money. For the rest of the year, they don't feel the urge to come over. Both children have got a beautiful property and they still get a nice monthly allowance. It is sad if your children only come visit you when they can get something out of it. But isn't that the way they were raised? Did their parents buy their love?

Money.. it's comfortable to have some, it's painful to have too much..


Friday, September 18, 2009

Dinner on demand

You get 4 meals a day in school. Two of them are hot meals. There's a great variety in diet to choose from. But school's kitchen is not mum's kitchen, so you tell me. You miss my food...
On Friday you text me around noon what you would like to have for dinner when you come home. It's kind of like having a dinner on demand. I like doing that for you, it gives me a good feeling.
Today, you have ordered a typical Belgian dish: vol-au-vent and home made French fries. It's a chicken casserole with white sauce, small meatballs, mushrooms (I'll skip those for you) and of course a lot of chicken! Normally we serve the vol-au-vent in a fresh baked piece of puff pastry, but you don't care too much for that. I enjoy watching you have dinner and telling us about your week in school. It's good to have the whole family around the table and have dinner together.

P.S. I have made bread pudding for you. Surprise!


Going bananas


Rebba makes me ROFL. Really! She sleeps in her bench. When I come downstairs the next morning, she's still laying down, no crying, no barking. And then I let her out... and she goes bananas! We go outside in the backyard so she can do whatever she needs to do (duh). She always ends up all the way back there, near the chickens. And then the crazy phenomenon starts: she races all the way back to the terrace, comes back, runs off again. She reminds me of Speedy Gonzales or Roadrunner. In fact, she looks more like a horizontal Roadrunner.. meep meep...zjoef.. She's so funny!! When she's pooped, she comes back inside, has a drink and a bite and then she crashes on the couch, trying to find the best spot.. to sleep.. again..
Even that sleeping routine is fun to watch. She throws up all of the pillows, trying to settle down on the most comfortable blanky, rolling over on her back, legs in the air, looking like a shrimp! I love her to pieces. What a joy she is!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some guys have all the luck

I would like to share this joke with you:

Our own King Albert and President Obama are having a lunch meeting in a wonderful castle. The host has set a wonderful table, with golden cutlery. King Albert is a little bored and he's inspecting all the people around him. He takes a glance at his neighbor Obama, who has just put a golden spoon in his pocket. King Albert is very surprised by this act and on the other hand, he thinks: hey! I would like a golden spoon too!!!
So he's waiting for the best opportunity. He tries to lift his spoon, that is laying in between the whine glasses. But as we all know, King Albert is suffering from Parkinson's Disease. He starts to tremble just when he lifts the spoon. Result: he taps against the wine glasses and instantly, everybody is quiet, thinking the King is about to give a speech. So the King stands up and starts his speech, chit chatting about his family. He's very nervous and so happy when he can sit down again. He's all sweaty, but still has no golden spoon to take home.
So he tries again. But again, as soon as he lifts the spoon, the glasses make a horrible noise. The King stands up again, because the other guests expect another speech. He says he is a great magician and he's willing to prove that! So this is what he does: He picks up his golden spoon and puts it in his pocket. He mumbles some secret formula and says: Tada! lifting the golden spoon from Obama's pocket :-)


Jaloofaboo


Lately, my husband and I often say what the other is thinking. It's really weird. Especially because our interests are so different. We have never had this before, but now it can no longer be a coincidence. It seems like there is a higher power watching over us, controlling random coincidences.

I have had this experience for many years, but not with my husband. I might think of someone and that same day, I will run into that person or that person gives me a phone call. Or I buy a new product in the supermarket and that night, I see a commercial on TV promoting that product. And I had never seen that commercial before. That's really jaloofaboo!

I like this "sixth sense". It makes life interesting. Sometimes I have the feeling of a déjà vu. I never talk about it because I always think people will say: yeah right.. whatever... I believe in this kind of stuff. Do you?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Socks

I have just cleaned up the girls' rooms and I have found dozens of socks. Too bad they weren't pairs. How come so many socks get lost? I don't get it. I have like 50 socks without the other half. Now that's a mystery. Maybe I should buy only one color and one size and one brand, so if we lose half, it wouldn't matter because the socks would still match. I used to think the other half got lost in the washer, but that's not the case. They are lost before they reach the laundry basket. So we have to solve the problem on another level: the girls! How come they keep dirty socks in their rooms? The laundry basket is downstairs and they get showered and dressed downstairs as well. They sometimes wear socks in bed, but then again: their socks should be hidden in their sheets, but I checked the sheets and no socks were found. Shoot.. I begin to believe that the socks in this house lead a life of their own.


Wedding bells for children..


In Jemen, a 12 yo old girl that had been married to a 24 yo man, has given birth to a still born. The young mother didn't make it either. She died of excess bleedings while being in labor. What a tragedy..
In Jemen, the poorest country of the Arabic world, it is common for girls to get married at a very young age. One quarter of the females get wed before they even reach the age of 15, as told in a recent study. Girls from a poor family are often promised to older, rich men. Sometimes even cousins get married. The belief says it will protect them from ending up in a bad relationship.

Two years ago, an 8 (!) yo girl went to court to ask the judge if he could annul her wedding with a 30 yo man. The court thought she was too young to be married. Since February, the legal minimum age to get married is 17. Some more conservative members of the Parliament are trying to fight this new law, stating it is against their Islamic belief.
How can parents agree in sending their young daughters into a marriage at that age? I'm so glad we live in Belgium and not in Jemen. Let a child be a child, without marital duties and without giving birth to another child at this young age. What's wrong with love in a marriage? Don't tell me these young girls love their husband and it was their choice to be wed at such a young age. How can these men have intercourse with such young girls? They could be their daughters! I'm very open minded, but this is too much, even for me...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The bill please

September is the most expensive month of the year in this family. And this year, we have had more bills than ever. Nowadays I dread to see the mailman and I normally embrace him coming over. Bills keep coming in: school books, doctor costs, vet costs, dance classes for our daughter, boarding school, school appliances, new clothes for the children, new shoes for the children, .. aaarrggh? When will September be over? I want to hop on to another month! I know we don't buy a dog every month and school only starts in September, not October. But I've had it. September is my least favorite month of the year.


Too late for goodbyes..

Only a five minute drive from our house, there was a very good restaurant, where we loved to go with our friends and family. The owner of the restaurant was a jolly good fellow and we really liked him. He was a good host and he liked to chit chat with his customers. He recently sold his restaurant to explore other horizons. Our astonishment was big, when we heard about his death today.. This is what the newspaper said:

Monday morning, a body was found in a small park in Ghent. It had multiple stab wounds, which caused the death of this 35 yo young man from Lembeke. The police are investigating and looking into the case. They have no idea so far who murdered this young man and what the motive was. He must have been murdered Sunday night.. A possibility is a fight, leading to the stabbing of this man. The investigators are trying to find out what he was doing in this neighborhood at that time of the night.


What a waste of life, what a waste of talent. Nobody deserves to die like this. Bernard Verstraete was a young father of two. He was someone's son. He had family and friends and was loved. I hope he didn't suffer too much and I hope he passed out without realizing he was not going to make it. RIP Bernard.. You were a great guy. My heart goes out to your two beautiful children, Jules and Marie-Alixe..



Monday, September 14, 2009

As easy as pie

No, don't worry, I'm not going to let you make a pie. There's this recipe I would like to share that is so easy to make. You just have to try it!

So what do you need?

2 tablespoons of oil (30 ml)
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of honey
a bunch of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
about 15 cherry tomatoes
one pound of deshelled and deveined shrimp (500 gr)
a package of Chinese Mie noodles

Fill a large pan with salted water and bring it to the boil. Let the noodles soften in the water, of the stove, lid on.
Heat the oil and add the red pepper flakes, the onion, garlic and ginger. Stirfry until the onion is translucent. Add the honey, half of the coriander and the whole tomatoes. Stirfry a little longer. Turn up the heat and add the shrimp. Cook them for no longer than 5 min or when they turn opaque.
Drain the noodles and throw them in the pan with the shrimp. Mix it all together and sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander on top.

TIP: you can add mushrooms too if you like!

Enjoy this restaurant style dinner!


The little red engine

I think we all know the story of the little red engine. But have you heard the story of the young man that was run over by a train and had no injuries whatsoever??

A 19 yo young man must have had more than one guardian angel. After having had way too many drinks at a festival, the man must have fallen asleep on the railway, between the cities of Quimper and Paris. The next morning a high speed train ran over the young man, who miraculously survived without any injuries!

To make the story even more unbelievable: the man slept through the whole event! He did not hear the train running over him. In fact, he didn't move a budge. The police and the firemen had a hard time waking him up. And when they finally managed, he gave them the finger, turned over and went back to sleep. The "victim" was transported to the hospital anyway, to have a good rest. I wonder what he will have to say when he wakes up and realizes what he has gotten himself into..


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't talk to strangers

We were taught not to talk to strangers. People we meet on the Internet are virtually strangers to us, right? But what a surprise! I have met around 45 people on our diabetesforum by now, all through the Internet and guess what: they are no strangers at all! It's like we have known each other for quite some time and it feels very good.

Today we had another meeting, in Sint-Niklaas. A well respected male member of our forum has organized the day and he has set several routes to go for a walk. He thought about young families who bring their children in a stroller, he thought of people in a wheel chair, he considered people who don't really care much about walking. And somewhere in the middle, we all joined again to have a drink. We had a great time, like we always do when we meet. It's good to know, that not all strangers are really strangers. In fact, people you hang out with on a daily basis can be more of a stranger than people you talk to on the Internet.


Pretty preppy

I had a work date with you, just the other day. And I must say: you looked pretty preppy! You are fab, did you know that? Talented, good looking, optimistic, funny, sociable, creative,.. I'm glad I can call you my friend. We enjoy hanging out together and I enjoy the person you are. The things you do and the ideas you have, are something to look up to. You are the designer you want to be. Don't ever doubt that.




Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hinglish

I must have told you before, that I'm in to Indian movies, music and food. Today I had my first Indian cooking class. Sunit was our teacher. She and her family have moved to Belgium 4 years ago. She's a homeopath in her country. Over here, more and more people invite her to give cooking lessons. And I must say: she's really good! What I like best about her, is her Indian humour! She's so funny!! Whenever I see an Indian movie, better known as Bollywood movies, I enjoy their Hinglish, a mixture of Hindi - the Indian language - and English. Indians love to show off that they went to school so they speak English whenever they can. Half of their conversation might be in Hindi and the other half in English. And that's what we call "Hinglish". I love the intonation of the language and the way they pronounce their letters.

Indian cooking class was very interesting. We have made chickpea garam masala, chapati (Indian bread), Bombay potatoes, pickled carrots with ginger and mosterd seeds (my gosh, that was hot!) and we had store bought papadums on the side. But first of all, Sunit welcomed us with Indian chai - black tea. Chai is made out of 2/3 of water and 1/3 of milk, cooked with cardemom seeds, a lot of sugar and of course black tea. You make it on the stove, instead of using a tea bag and the kettle. It was interesting.

I'm glad my sister-in-law and I get to do this together. I can't wait to go to the Indian store and get the ingredients to do some Indian cuisine at home!


Manscara and guyliner

Men are getting used to their feminine side. They realize now, that not only their car needs to be maintained, but their skin needs protection too and a body milk after taking a shower is no longer womanish. It's nice to hear that men take care of themselves. Once they realize there is other soap but Sunlight and after shave is not only for Sundays, they look better and more appealing. I hear nowadays it's fashionable for men to apply mascara - did you hear they call it "manscara" - and guyliner - don't you just love that expression??? I like the idea of giving it a masculine name. There are many male beauty products available, so why not use them? Nevertheless, I can't imagine hubby wearing any manscara or guyliner.. go figure! But I do like him to take care of his skin and use a moisturizer, after shave and a matching deodorant. And that's exactly what he does!




Friday, September 11, 2009

Gimme some suga!

I can't wait to see my little girl! I have missed her so much this week. She's doing great in boarding school and we call her every night around 9 o'clock. That is our private time and we always make sure we are available for her around that time. She tells about school and boarding school, and we tell her about home and what we have been up to.
Tonight, both girls are going to the sea side, to spend some time with their grandparents. Every year, they rent an apartment for two weeks and of course, the grandchildren can come for a sleep-over. They miss their grandparents. They are used to seeing them at least once a week. Grandma promised them a surprise for Saturday! But we have a surprise for grandma too! Rebba! They don't know about her yet, we haven't told them. So Rebba will join us to the beach and we will surprise them!

Sweet little daughter of mine, I want to cuddle you and hug you and give you sloppy kisses, just the way you like them. Although you say you're getting too old for sloppy kisses, I know you still enjoy that one-on-one attention..


Growing pains

Our eldest daughter has an appointment with an orthopaedist. Her knees hurt big time. She's been growing too fast and intense jumping up and down on the trampoline will not have done any good. She's so active! She loves to dance, jump on the trampoline, run, take the dog for a walk, ride her bike. She already has orthotics in her shoes, but apparently that doesn't cut it. So we made an appointment with the specialist and we'll see what he can do about it. She's not prepared to give up on sports and I hope for her she can continue to do the sports she likes!

She's been dancing ballet since she was two and a half. This year she is taking extra classes in New Style Ragga and that is very intense! But she just loves it! And I must say: she's really good at it. A little shy and way too modest. She lacks the confidence, but she shouldn't. Her teacher says she has great ballet legs!

I hope her pain is just growing pains and nothing worse, so she won't need surgery.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hitler in day care?

Why is Hitler so popular again? In Germany, there's a video commercial on safe sex, showing a Hitler look-a-like having unprotected sex. In Belgium, reporters filmed the interior of a private day care center: we could all see pictures of Hitler on the wall of the family room. Hello? Who would want to send his offspring to be raised with people that are Hitler fanatics? Have they forgotten who he was?? It makes me sick to my stomach and I believe it's a huge insult to mankind. Social Services looked into it (what a surprise - they had similar complaints about this day care center a couple of years ago) and they finally withdrew their day care permit. But hey, the day care center will not be closed down. They can continue their work without the permit. It will be more expensive for the parents though, since they cannot deduct the day care cost from their taxes, if the day care center doesn't have a permit. Both day care center and the parents of the children should be ashamed of themselves..


I have a dream..

that one day, I will have a size 10. Wouldn't that be awesome? Just like that, without dieting, without paying attention to what you eat or drink? How nice would it be, to shop in nice boutiques rather than pick out whatever is in your size? There are so many clothes I would love to wear but are not available in my size right now. It is pretty frustrating if you enter a boutique and there's nothing for you, because you have a size up. It is sad.. Do designers honestly think that people with a bigger size don't like pretty clothes? I know I've had it with comfortable clothes.. I hate the prints that tell everyone you have a bigger size. It's like bigger size clothes have those special prints, the paisley prints. Ugh. Many of those clothes are real baggy too and they make you look even bigger than you truly are.

It's not about having a size 4 or even an 8. I would be more than happy with a size 10 or even 12. It's a great feeling to wear a pair of jeans that fits like a glove. I remember how easy it is to tie your shoe laces when you have a size 10.

I know this dream of mine will be fulfilled. One day soon.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Talk

If you have kids, The Talk is inevitable at some point. Whether your children are 3, 10 or 14, one day you will have to sit down with them and talk about sex. I know you are not looking forward to that. Who would be? But it's necessary. Children need to know sex is normal and sex is part of life. You would want your children to be open to you and to come tell you when they are ready to have sex. You wouldn't want them to feel awkward about talking to you or let you know what keeps their minds busy. Because they do talk about it and they sure think about it! Don't underestimate them!

So yes, I have talked to my girls about sex. We had The Talk when either one of them turned 12. It was a mom-to-daughter talk and it was a private talk in the bedroom. We closed the curtains, we lit some candles and we snuggled up in bed and curled up against each other. I had bought a book on the subject, a book they could understand. So we went through the book together and we talked. I asked questions and so did they. I asked my eldest daughter if she had any questions for me. She asked me about masturbation. Shoot... I wish she had asked me something else first. But hey, no shame, remember? So I gave her a mirror and I let her explore herself. No more, no less. That was sufficient for her. She felt very grown up afterwards, that she had had The Talk!
Her sister had to wait two more years before it was her turn. And she did as well as her sibling. They both have a book they can understand and look into. They keep it in their room, and once in a while, I find it next to their beds. I believe they are growing up..
We also talked about condoms and AIDS and indecent proposals, about being gay or straight, about getting pregnant. I asked them to preserve themselves for that one special person they will meet one day.
And I let them know they could come and talk to me whenever they felt the need. I don't think they should marry the man they first sleep with. There are many candidates out there and they have to find their way and they should explore the world. That doesn't mean they have to hop into the bed of every Jack or Joe. They need to respect their bodies after all.
While we were talking, I asked them to come tell me if they were in love. Our eldest is 14. She's in love. And she's told me about it. I'm proud of her. She's a good girl. She knows what she wants and she sure knows what she doesn't want.

I wonder how hubby would've done if we would have had a son instead of girls. I'm sure he would have felt pretty awkward as well.


Like cats and dogs

Cats and dogs can perfectly live in harmony. That is, if they accept one another. We have a rather special cat. He has a mind of its own and he's very dominant. No other cat can enter his kingdom and he likes to fight with the neighborhood cats. So we were a little anxious to see how he would respond to our dog. He had never met a dog before and he was a little hesitant when he first saw Rebba. As soon as he found out that crazy 4 legged thing could run, he attacked him. Rebba had no idea what had happened and she licked her wounds. Arthur is very protective of his territory and he was not happy at all. He meowed like I had never heard him before.

It is the 7th day since we got Rebba. Arthur and Rebba are getting used to each other. She ignores him and she no longer looks for him to play: she already knows he's not in to dog games. On the other hand, Arthur is getting more and more curious to find out about Rebba. He's very brave and bold, especially if Rebba is locked up in her bench. He might even tempt her then. If he could, I know he would stick out his tongue.

It reminds me of Garfield and Odie. Great fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shakalaka Baby

Shakalaka Baby is a song from the Indian musical Bombay Dreams. We saw it with our friends in London, a couple of years ago. Ever since, we have played the album over and over again. I just love the music and the Indian touch to it.

India is a pretty fascinating country. The colors in the clothes, the special spices in the food, the impressive music.. You feel like dancing when you see the Indian dance moves!
I'm very happy that my sister-in-law invited me to join her to Indian cooking classes. We'll take 3 classes of 4 hours each, to learn how to cook the most famous and delicious Indian dishes. I'm really looking forward to that! I love lentils, chapati, Bombay potatoes, curry, garam masala,.. Let's go for it!


What's lurking in your Ipod?

If you like piano music, you should buy "Beyond", the new cd by William Joseph, a wonderful young musician. I just love his Asturias..

Little William Joseph had a great feeling for music. His parents couldn't afford to pay music lessons for him. Little William knew he was going to be a great musician and he joined the Boys and Girls Club. They provided music lessons for him and look where he is now! William wrote his own music from the day he turned 5!

William never forgot the Boys and Girls Club. He's a father of three now and he's helping out young children to live their dream. Sorry girls, he's taken!!


Monday, September 7, 2009

MacDreamy

My friend is totally into MacDreamy aka Patrick Dempsey. And I must say: he's cute! We can't deny the gorgeous eyes, the glam smile, the body, the killer look... hmhm.. So now I then, I like to watch the story of Meredith and MacDreamy on Grey's Anatomy.

But today, I watched Maid of Honour. Although I'm not the most romantic soul in the world, I fell for this movie and I loved every bit of it. It made me laugh, it made me wipe away a tear and it warmed my heart. What a wonderful story...

Tom (Patrick Dempsey) has a very good life: he's sexy, he's successful and he's a womaniser. When his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) leaves for Scotland on a business trip, Tom realises that Hannah is the love of his life. Too late.. because Hannah has fallen in love with a Scottish duke, Colin. Hannah asks Tom to be her Maid of Honour and he agrees reluctantly. Is he going to be able to sabotage the wedding and tell Hannah how much he loves her??


You ain't seen nothing yet

What's wrong with the world? Every day I hear about people committing suicide. Is this Earth so bad to live on? What problems can one have that are so awful they cannot live their lives?

A 26 yo man from Chili hung himself in front of his webcam, while his ex-girlfriend watched him commit suicide.. His ex tried to warn some friends, but all help came too late. Simon Venegas was announced dead.. He told her to watch him and stated he loved her and she should take care of herself.

Do you think this is our future? I'm afraid more and more youngsters no longer know how to deal with their problems. They spend too much time gaming and surfing on the Internet. They forget to have fun and hang out with friends. They forget to take care of themselves and they have virtual friends instead of real time friends. It is sad.. There are so many fun things in life. Too bad they can't find them.

I hear about couples splitting up and one of them committing suicide afterwards. On the first day of school, a man hung himself in the garage. He was a father of three and the youngest was only 15. His wife is dying. She has cancer.. What will happen to these children..?? His son found the dead body. What do you think this will do to the boy? He's traumatised for life. September 1 will never be the same for these children.

Many people get divorced. Life goes on. It's sad that people get divorced, but it's no reason to end your life. Try to be active, get a hobby, make sure you always keep your own friends. Make sure you have a life of your own, even in your marriage. I remember one of my teachers saying, that once you get married, you and your husband become one. I never trusted him. You shouldn't become one person, you are two individuals that happen to love one another. But you should not become the other person and the other shouldn't give up on his life to become you. Of course it's great to do things together and to share friends, but what's wrong with having your own friends and hobbies?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Clean house

Everybody was out of the house. They went to spend the day in an amusement park. I stayed home with Rebba. It is her first week in our home and I did not want to leave her alone for a whole day yet. So I got to clean the house today! I enjoy cleaning when I'm sure I'll be alone for a whole day. Nobody to cook meals for, no errands to run. Just me and Arabic music, to cheer up the cleaning part. I definitely need music while I'm cleaning the house. And Arabic music cuts the deal!

I love the smell of a fresh cleaned house, leaving it all spic and span. I feel like Niecy Nash today, because I got to clean up quite some clutter too!


Too late for regrets

1991 - The Texan house was burning down. Todd Willingham, a young father of 3, stood outside, wearing nothing but a pair of jeans. He was screaming in despair: My babies are burning up!!! All three children, Karmon and Kameron - 1 yo twin girls and Amber - 2 at the time, were trapped inside the burning house. A neighbor called 911 as fast as she could. Todd was devastated and tried to rush back inside, but the flames were too hot and the smoke was too thick. The firemen were at the scene real fast, but the fire was too fierce. Amber was the first child to be brought outside by a fireman. She didn't survive. Both the firemen and the police had to restrain Todd from racing back in to help find his other children. At a certain point, they even had to hold him down and handcuff him. Kameron and Karmon were severely burned and they too, died from smoke inhalation.
Todd's wife had left early to go pay electric and water bills, and then headed to the Salvation Army, to get some christmas presents for the children.
The family of 5 was young and they virtually had no money. Stacy worked in a bar and Todd was an unemployed stay-at-home father of three. The couple didn't get along real well. Todd liked his beers and played darts. He left the house numerous times, leaving Stacy and the children behind. They didn't have a stove. They cooked their meals in a microwave that often "popped" while preparing food in it, Todd would later explain. They also owned a countertop deep-fat fryer and a two-burner hot plate.
The community took up a collection to help pay for funeral arrangements.
Fire investigators tried to determine the cause of the blaze. The fire tells the story, the investigators are the interpreters. Neighbors told the police they were not convinced Todd tried hard enough to rescue his children. They saw him move his car away from the house, while his children were still inside. Todd said he managed to reach the babies room, but he couldn't find the twins, due to the thick smoke and the burning heat. He rushed to Amber's room, but he couldn't find her either. His own hair was set on fire and he rushed out, crying for help.
The investigators couldn't find any proof of a spontaneous fire. They concluded that the house was set on fire intentionally and Todd Willingham was convicted of arson murder and sentenced to death row. Journalists spread the news that Willingham was so fond of darts and drinking beer and felt his children were in his way to do what he liked to do most.
He was executed in 2004. He kept claiming he was innocent until the day he got his lethal injection. There was no reason why he would have set the house on fire, sentencing his precious little girls to die a most painful death.

2009 - A new investigative report shows that Todd Willingham was innocent. There can no longer be any doubt that an innocent person has been executed. The question now turns to how we can stop it from happening again..

This article really struck me. I have read about death row and I do believe that sometimes, people have done the most horrific deeds. Is death penalty the solution? Will it bring the victims back? Will it teach other criminals a lesson? Will our own minds be soothed, knowing that the prisoner has suffered as well? It is controversial and I have my own opinion on it. In this case, it has been proven that justice made a huge mistake. So after all, there hasn't been any justice in this story...
Todd's parents reunited Todd with the children, spreading his ashes over the graves of the three little girls. May they rest in peace now..


Saturday, September 5, 2009

One of us






You are one of us now. You got to know our whole family and you appear to be happy with us. The kids love you and so do we. You enjoy playing outside in the yard, love to go for a walk, you like to sit in the car. I just bought you a bench, so you can have your own private spot in the house. You have tried it out, with the door open, and it didn't scare you. I hope you will like it as much at night.. We'll see. We're happy and very lucky to have you Rebba!


Longing for big nuts

I believe I must have been 14 at the time. I took the train to go to school in Ieper, West Flanders. I couldn't wait for school to be over, to rush back to the train station. How I longed for big nuts! Hey! Behave, will you!!!! I'm talking about a delicious, fulfilling piece of chocolate bar, filled with crunchy, whole peanuts! I don't remember the exact brand, but the bar was called Big Nuts. I got it out of a vending machine and it was so satisfying to have one. I remember how much it was: 20 Belgian franks (half a euro). I would suck up the chocolate and leave the peanuts for dessert... hmhmhm... Do you think the chocolate bar still exists?


Friday, September 4, 2009

Do you love me for who I am?

There's a lot going on in my life right away. Things have been pretty hectic around here. I'm pretty sure things will go back to normal once the kids have been going back to school for some time. It's so hard to find some time for myself right now. I have the feeling I'm being pulled at and people blame me for not making time for them.. I hardly have time for myself and I do not want to be torn. I try to schedule my time the best I can. Having a family with children is a full time job. Having a wonderful social life is a full time job. Making time for yourself is luxury. I would really like to have that luxury once in a while. Maybe I should schedule a luxurious, selfish me-day in the near future. I know I cannot give my full attention to a person when my head is full of chores that need to be done or places I have to go to. Over the years, I have noticed that it's becoming harder for me to divide my attention amongst several things or people at the same time. Or maybe I take more value to quality time than quantity time? I feel obliged to give individual attention to people whenever I spend time with them. Meaning I do not pick up the phone when I'm with someone else or I take my time whenever I arrange a date with a friend. It's not very respectful towards the other if you continually pick up your phone to talk to someone else. I hate it when people do that to me. It's like you're not important enough to that person at the time. Do you ever talk to a friend or a relative on the phone, that constantly interrupts you by saying: hold on, someone else is trying to reach me, or I'll call you back, there's someone at the door, or just a minute, I need to do this or that. I have no time for phone calls of that manner. How do they call it? Time management? So much time is lost when you have phone conversations like that. That's why I call less and email more. Sending an email on your own time or receiving email whenever you have time to read it.. That's my cup of tea.

Do I have to give up on my principles in order to be loved by my friends? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. It's taken me a long run to find out for myself what is important to me and I'm not prepared to give that up again that easily. If one cannot accept that I cannot always be available and that sometimes I have no time for them or I can't see them for some time.. bad luck. I do the best I can. Don't expect any more.


Gone with the wind

Yesterday was a very windy day. We spent a day at the beach, with our friends, or at least, that was the plan... Our friends had an appointment downtown and they couldn't bring their dog. So they left her in the back yard of the cabin they had rented. They had left the dog there before and there had never been any incident. Until today.. The wind was so fierce, that Buck, the dog, was so terrified, that she climbed over the fence and fled.. When our friends came back to the cabin, they really panicked, because Buck is not used to this new environment and she had no leash or any ID on her. My friend contacted the police right away and warned the reception to look out for the dog. We went to look for her, but we couldn't find her.. It was so sad to see my friend in despair, because his dog is so precious to him. They are a pair and they get along so well. We dare not think of the possible scenarios that could have happened.
Buck was so lucky to have run into a very friendly lady. She thought it was not normal to see this frantic dog running around the main street. She was afraid the dog was going to be hit by a car, so she tried to catch her. And she managed. She called pet control and they picked the dog up. Within a couple of hours, Buck had fled, she had been captured and we could go and pick her up in a nearby town.

Buck was gone with the wind. She was so happy to see her "daddy". She went crazy when she saw him and she was so happy to go home again.. I'm so glad she was not hurt and she didn't cause any accident. Like the French would say: tout est bien qui finit bien.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are you happy to be stuck with me?

My sweet little Rebba.. We have taken you away from your Dutch family and all your step-sisters and step-brothers. You have lived in Denmark for two years, before you came to Holland. And now you live in Flanders, Belgium. Your pedigree name is Frontrunner's Midsummer Love, but you listened to the name Martha. We call you Rebba. You are very good with languages, since you understand Danish, Dutch and Flemish. You are pretty smart you know!

We've fallen in love with you.. We got you on probation, to see if the match will work out. I instantly knew we were going to love you to pieces, but we had to wait and see whether you would accept us. I'm getting pretty confident that you will. You follow me around the house and you kiss and cuddle real easily. You come when I call you and you do not risk to get out of my sight. Whenever I whistle, you stand right by my side. You are a doll!

Your favorite spot is on the couch, right next to the family. You haven't seen Eva yet, because she's still in school until Friday. But I'm pretty sure you will embrace her too and she will cuddle you and stroke your back. We are very, very lucky to have you Rebba. You are really special and I know this chance is one of a life time.

Thank you Sandra, thank you Lucien, thank you Véronique, for trusting us with Martha - Rebba. We will take very good care of her and we will honor her breed and her personality. I hope we will have the chance to keep her as long as she may live..


Arthur Kittynapped



When my friend got divorced, she couldn't take her tomcat with her. So he came to live with us and we have loved and cherished him from day one. Arthur is such a great cat and so much fun to have around.
One summer, the girls were going to summer camp and hubby and I booked a holiday in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt. Our neighbour suggested to take care of our little household and pets. They were used to doing so and this year wasn't any different.

But the odds must have been against us.. Arthur and Fidias, his friend, got kittynapped by a cat-hater in the neighbourhood. We thought he was dead. We couldn't find him when we ca
me back and it was absolutely heartbreaking. The girls were inconsolable. They burned candles, wrote love letters to Arthur and taped those to the front window. We made posters with his picture, but nobody knew where Arthur was. We feared the worst..poisoning, traffic accident, some other painful death..

On the Internet, there is a website for missing animals. So we posted an add for Arthur, in the hope somebody knew where he were. After 6 1/2 weeks, I decided to delete the add, because I was convinced he would never come back. But Lana begged me to leave the add on the Internet for another week. She must have known Arthur wasn't dead!

A family contacted me that they had seen Arthur's add on the site and that they thought they had found him (just a couple of days before). Yes, his tail is always up, yes, his ear is torn, yes, he's a very loving cat. We were so nervous and we had to wait two more hours to go get him. Because the lady that found him, wasn't home at the time.

Arthur didn't recognise us anymore. He was skinny and you could see h
e had suffered a serious ordeal. But we loved him and we wanted him back. The people that had found him were sad to see him go. But they knew our kids wanted their beloved kitty back.

One more week later, Fidias was also found, in that same area, a twenty minute drive. Those cats didn't walk that far. Somebody had taken them. He must have thrown them out along the road. Just because he keeps birds and he hates cats. It is sad.. He must have been gobsmacked to see those two tomcats alive and kicking! Let's hope Arthur and Fidias have 6 more lives to go.

Whenever we go away now, Arthur frequents a hotel and he is taken care off. We no longer have to fear the kittynapper!






Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Worst meals on this earth

Dogs are not supposed to eat cat food. Rebba found out the hard way. We gave her the special dog food in her bowl and we fed the cat at the same time. In no time, fast as lightening, Rebba managed to empty the cat's bowl. She shouldn't have done that.. and we should have separated cat and dog to have their dinners. Rebba's intestines weren't too happy with the cat food and her tummy rumbled like thunder. She didn't feel too comfortable today. When I saw her munch on some green leaves in the back yard, I knew she was trying to find a way to get her sick stomach cleaned. And indeed, this afternoon she threw up. She emptied her gal bladder and now she's fast asleep on the couch. She didn't want to eat anything today, but that's okay. Her stomach needs to calm down now.

I spent the night downstairs. The plan was that Rebba would sleep in her brandnew dog's bed, next to the couch I was going to sleep on. But that's not exactly what happened. Arthur decided he liked the dog's bed. So he stepped into it and fell asleep. Rebba didn't mind at all and she joined me on the couch, laying her head in my neck. I could feel her heartbeat bump up and down and it was soothing.
In the middle of the night, Rebba decided she wanted to give Arthur some company. He did not expect her at all and it scared him. So Arthur ran off, Rebba jumped back onto the couch and we fell asleep again. Some time later, Arthur tried to figure out why I was sleeping on the couch. He probably forgot about Rebba, until she peeked from behind my back. So there went Arthur again..

They'll get used to one another. It will take some time, but Rome wasn't built in one day either, was it?