Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas and Conversations

Now for you sitting at home, back in the States, you're probably thinking: she just said "Christmas!" and it's not even Thanksgiving!! But hang in with me for a minute. We are living in a country where Thanksgiving is not a celebration - so even though Christmas hasn't been thrown-up over everything it's still not "sacreligious" for Christmas things to be up and around. So when I realized that this coming weekend I'm going to be away (on my own...well with an aunt, but no boys) and then the following weekend (which is when I would normally decorate) is when my aunt will be with us, I decided I was going to decorate now!
I got all of our stuff out of our storage area - fun times with moldy and mildewy Christmas things...some things were destroyed beyond saving, we had to say good-bye to a few ornaments that were beyond saving...a couple of books I'm hanging on to hopping they won't continue to be destroyed, but we'll see...
However, before we even got the Christmas things out of storage, someone told me that he didn't want a big Christmas tree, he wanted a little Christmas tree just for him! Thankfully I saved the little Christmas tree from his 1st Christmas (where I bought a small tree because I didn't want him to destroy it and I didn't really have the energy to put up my big tree), so he was thrilled that he did in fact, get his very own Christmas tree!
And he even got to decorate it!! I later helped him to spread the decorations out - but this is what it looked like when I went to look at it after our lunch conversation. Oh, what was our lunch conversation? Well here you go...Setting: Sitting at the table and eating lunch - we talked about the Christmas tree in his room. 
Monkey: "Mommy, I need help hanging the 7 on my Christmas tree. It falls off. Please help me!"
Me: (totally confused) "The '7'? There is a 7 in the ornaments I gave you?"
Monkey: "Yes! It falls off. It doesn't hang."
Me: (lightbulb!) "Is the 7 made up of red and white stripes?"
Monkey: "Yes!"
Me: "That's a candy cane! Although you're right, it does look like a 7, in a way."
If you look closely at the above tree, right under the Santa face is a white string and "hanging" on the string is the "7"...it was actually a candy cane magnet!! Of course it was the same material as the decorations because they were all made by my grandpa (my dad's dad) But yes, he's never had...or probably seen a candy cane - so he doesn't know what they are!

Can I say nap time that day was a little wasted...he slept about an hour and then was awake because he wanted to help decorate my tree - the big tree. I put it up while he was sleeping and I decorated most of it, but left him quite a few decorations he could put on the big tree or his little tree...he chose to put them on the big tree...or as he reverently referred to it  "It's a magical Christmas tree..."
Since we were getting "Christmafied" it meant all the kids Christmas books came out too...one in particular stumps him every.time we read it...and we read it at least twice a day...
Every time we get to this page he is confused as to where God is, since I insisted Joseph was not God...and I also insisted the cat was not God (as every page that mentions God also has a cat on the page). You see, he's used to reading books that have all the named characters shown...so if the page says "God" then God better be present on the page...and He's not... My poor, little confused monkey! Maybe by the end of the Christmas season we won't have this confusion...

Tea Service

Tea, set up on the tray, by the monkey
Yes, I have a little boy. Yes, he loves balls, trains, stomping in puddles, playing with cars, and wrestling. Yes, my little boy also loves all things related to the kitchen and food. Yes, he loves flowers, fine china, lace, and using real plates, cups, bowls rather than the normal "child-proof" plastic dishes. In fact, when I went to the polish pottery outlet earlier this year I had considered buying him his very own tea set, but they were just so expensive so I refrained and instead bought him a little pitcher (which broke as soon as it hit the tile ground, when it slipped out of his hand as he carefully carried it around - and caused many tears to come). But a friend of mine found a kids tea set (polish pottery) for over a lot less (over 1/2 off) and I just couldn't resist. We bought it the same day we went to the Canadian Christmas Market, where we bought him "Woody Woodpecker"...which he loved.
But the tea service...yeah, the tea service that daddy couldn't believe I bought for the monkey (especially since it wasn't plastic)...he LOVES. He wanted it immediately so we could have tea! (He likes to play with my teapot, and he likes to help turn our electric teapot on - which we use instead of my teapot when we have tea.)
He discovered that the teapot lid had to be held on and he made sure to "teach" me to keep my finger on the top every time he allows me to pour tea. This tea set he has set out on his tray - so that it's ready any time during the day that he thinks we need to have tea. He's now decided that it's an electric teapot as well and so the top has a button you push...he has also decided he likes to put the milk (pretend almond milk) and the honey (because he doesn't get sugar) into the teapot itself - once the tea has steeped - instead of allowing people to choose if they want it in their tea.
But he loves his tea service...and he and daddy do occasionally sit down and have tea in the afternoons.
Yep, this is my little boy, a typical toddler - who also happens to be very much like Curious George: "a good little monkey and always very curious." Although maybe a little spoiled, after all when asked if he was going to be good so Santa would bring him presents, he looked at his Woody Woodpecker toy and said "I don't need Santa to bring me a present, I have this present right here!"

Bonus Story: Really it was a one sided conversation...you see we went to the store and bought gooseberries. The monkey LOVES gooseberries...this is what happened when he saw the container of gooseberries on the kitchen counter:
Monkey: "I wonder who would like some gooseberries...hmmmmm. Oh, I would like some gooseberries! Mommy, can I have some gooseberries, please?"
I gave him some gooseberries (5).
Monkey: "Yep, those are the gooseberries I was talking about, they are! Yep, they are!"
He ate the gooseberries then rang a bell and said: "The gooseberry bell rang! That means it's GOOSEBERRY TIME!!!!"

He continued to ring the bell, ask for, and eat the gooseberries until he ate all of them.

Parks!

We love going to the park! We love being outside! We hate being cooped up, unless it's what the monkey wants to do and then we "love" it...but not really. You see, when we get outside I am able to run this kid ragged...yes, ragged. I love getting all of his cooped up energy out, even though I know nap time will involve more meltdowns because he's even more exhausted...I know that it'll be worth it because he'll take a good nap...unless he's sick - in which case I don't run him ragged. But that's common sense right?!
So on this particular day we went to the park furthest from us and with the playground (and tennis courts)! He wasn't really in the mood to play on the playground he wanted to go "consploring" and see what we could find...so we looked at rocks, we went down paths, we looked at and felt leaves and flowers...and then we found the little pine cones! Who doesn't like little pine cones?!
Of course after exploring for awhile he was ready to play! So to the playground we went!!
After sliding down the slide for a little bit he decided the swings were what he really wanted to play on. So play we did! It was his first experience of being spun on a real swing (not a tire swing)...
Yeah, he loved it! We played on the swings for a bit before he told me he wanted to teach me to ride the whale. Now out of context that sounds really odd. But you see there is a whale that you can ride at the park and that was what he was talking about. And just as he told me he wanted to - he did teach me how to ride the whale!
Then it was back home for lunch...where he shared my salad with me! Nice of him right?! He ate almost all his salad and then he ate about 1/2 of mine! (They were the exact.same.salad - crazy kid!)
A couple days later we went out - but not to the park, we went to our play group to see friends (okay he gets to see a few friends and I get to see some of my friends and have adult conversations - sure sometimes the conversations are about our kids, but still adults!!)
And as you can see - being inside, even with friends - but being inside makes him a little more cranky at lunch time...just a tad more cranky...
However after his nap he was in a much better mood and he wanted to go and pick daddy up from the bus stop (we had had the car that day since we had play group)...so we went up a little earlier so we could play some before daddy's bus came...but he was sure it was coming at any moment so he kept watch...
Once I convinced him that we had 15 more minutes before daddy's bus arrived he felt like he could go "consploring" some more! And guess what he found in the little park by the train/bus station?!
That's right - a spaceship! So he had to get on it!
The next day we had to get out once again! It was pretty nice weather out - cold but sunny...and he was pretty whiny. I asked him where he wanted to go and he picked the "lake" and the cemetery - which they're close to each other so I said Let's go! Of course I asked him before we left if he wanted to walk or if he wanted me to take the stroller - he chose to walk...I made sure he understood he was going to have to walk if he didn't want me to take the stroller...he chose to walk. So off we went! (Side note: I knew he could walk the distance we were going to walk...we have done day trips places where he'll refuse to ride in his stroller and he'll walk close to 5 miles with us...so I wasn't really concerned about not taking the stroller.)
He did a great job! He was whiny in the house and as soon as we went out into the "Great Outdoors" he suddenly developed the ability to listen, follow directions, and have fun!!
We saw fishermen fishing...we saw seagulls...and then he needed to sit and take a break
When he felt ready to get up and continue on around the rest of the lake, up the hill, and on to the cemetery we left! When we got to the cemetery he didn't do as much "consploring" and running around as he thought he would, but we did stop and look at the bouquets that had been left at the memorial for the World Wars (Nov 11th is a National holiday over here too - it commemorates the end of WWI)
When we got home I looked and guess what?! My child ended up walking 3.5 mi (5.6 km) before lunch! After his nap we went back out to go to the store and the bakery and get some food for dinner - which means he walked around 5 miles total that day! In all honesty he probably walks that much even when he's inside - because he's constantly on the move...I should put my fitbit on him someday and see how much he walks when he's inside!

Bonus Day: The next morning I was really glad we had spent the day before outside because we had another beautiful red sunrise = rainy, overcast day...
In other words, it was the perfect day for the monkey to wake up with a full blown cold - we spent the morning relaxing on the couch.
But before he went into his "comatose" state in front of the TV for an hour, we did have one "insightful" conversation. He looked out the window and saw this tree
And said: "Do you see the spaceship Mommy?! It's a squashed spaceship on a tree...it's called butternut squash. Can you make me butternut squash? .... Did you know you can eat honeydew? Yep you can!" Seriously people...that was the conversation! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Smurf Museum!

Okay, so we didn't actually go in the Smurf museum...instead we walked past it and past the Smurf stuff, and went outside to the Smurf statue and then on into the rest of Brussels. Sometimes the monkey just isn't up to what we think might be fun, but we still always have fun!
We had a great start to the trip though...or maybe I should say I had a great start to the trip! The monkey has entered the "daddy" phase!! You know the phase - where if daddy is around he wants daddy to do everything with him. I know there are some moms who are sad when this phase is entered because they feel like they're pushed to the back burner...I am not one of those moms. I LOVE it...I RELISH it. I laugh to myself (occasionally out loud) when I hear Rusty say "Can't mommy do this with you?" or "Don't you want mommy to play with you for a little bit?" because I know EXACTLY what that feels like...it's been my life for pretty much 2.75 years - it's so nice to have a little "break" when I'm in the same house! So when the train arrived - guess who the monkey wanted to sit by when there weren't a group of 4 seats together?!
I didn't know train rides could be so relaxing! Okay, so he still had to check up on me...I mean I was sitting by myself!
But we did get to see the giant Smurf sculpture - and how we missed it I really don't know! I mean it's just at another exit through the train station which takes you almost directly to the Grand Place...but yeah, we have just missed that exit, and then we'd pass by the street without looking down...crazy!
The monkey likes the Smurf's theme song, but other than that isn't too familiar with the smurfs...the show I tried to show him he didn't enjoy. And in all honesty - he was more interested in the gate than in the statue...my little doorman! The other statue of people on horses I've never seen before either because it's behind a building - well really there are buildings on all sides so hidden. Who does that to statues?! I didn't go up closer to see what it was, I'll have to do it next time...
From the Smurf statue you walk straight into this little market spot - there's always a market happening here on the weekend (I know there's an official name but I can't think of what it is)...but the monkey saw this statue and went running toward it saying "It's JESUS! It's JESUS, Mom!" Um, nope, sorry kiddo...that's not Jesus, it's Charles Buls who was once the Mayor of the city of Brussels.
Continuing on to the Grand Place we walked past chocolate and beer shops...and the monkey would stop and look in the shops. In this particular shop he stopped, looked in and said "OH Mom, this is be-u-ti-ful!" and then he insisted we walk in and look at everything!
Not to worry though we did get him past all the shops and to the Grand Place!
He wanted to go "consploring" around Town Hall...there was a wedding that was happening while we were there looking around the outside and walking up and down the stairs...
And then we had to go see "the peeing baby" (Manneken Pis)...we go see him every time we go because you never know when you'll catch him dressed up! And guess what?! He was!! (I'm actually tempted to go on Christmas Day to see him dressed as Santa...I think that's the only day that happens.)
Then it was back to the Grand Place and back to the train station because someone was starting to get tired and throw random tantrums over absolutely nothing...but he decided he needed to rest in this section - the restaurant hadn't opened up their outside seating to customers so it was safe for him to "take over".
It was chilly - but still a beautiful day!
Back in the train station...the monkey found this spot where he could in "in the window".
He loved it! Well he loved everything but the fact that they obviously don't clean the base so when he climbed up his hands got all dusty dirty...so what does one do when they have dirty dusty hands? That's right they wipe them on Mommy!! Of course for the time being mommy was on the other side of the glass so I was safe for a few more minutes...because when he came out the 1st thing he did was wipe his hands on me to clean them off before we headed down to our train.
As it happened the train was late (only 5 min), but luckily we were right next to the escalator which can provide hours of entertainment to this kid!
On the train it was back to being all about daddy...
Maybe one of these days we'll get to go to the Smurf museum...although not sure if it's really a "must see"...

Bonus pictures: The sunrise the previous morning...yeah, I know why "Red sky in the morning Sailors take warning..." it was an ugly weather day after the beautiful sunrise.