Belgium · Hudson · Spain · State College · Travel · Tripp

Bienvenue en Belgique

Wow, I can’t believe my last post was in December.  Really?  What a neglectful blogger I have been.  Sorry folks but life is speeding fast and I haven’t even been able to sit down and catch my breath until now.  Here is a recap:

Christmas – We had a nice quiet Christmas at home, opening gifts, spoiling the boys, eating lots of yummy food with great friends.

New Year’s – Friends of ours from Germany came to visit and we took advantage of their visit to see a few places again before we left Spain.  We went to Sevilla, Ronda, Costa Ballena, and had a nice evening with friends on New Year’s Eve.

Jan. 25th – packed up the whole house and shipped it off to Belgium.  Well, I didn’t actually do any of the packing myself except for what fit into our suitcases.  I love that about military life.  Someone comes into your house, massive roll of bubble wrap in one hand and 1000s of boxes in the other and before lunch you realize your entire world is encased in cardboard.  It’s really a glorious thing.  Until you realize they packed your landlord’s water meter key in a box somewhere amongst 1 of your 11 crates.  Oh well, he was cool about it.

Feb. 1st – Flew to the States for The. Quickest. Visit. Ever.  Less than a week in State College, visiting with my folks and shopping for a new climate.  Before our week in PA, I think Joe only owned 2 pairs of pants.  3 years in sunny Spain will do that to a guy’s wardrobe.

Feb. 10th – Back in Spain after 30 hours in the Dover Air Base Passenger Terminal.  I was never so happy to see Spain as I was that early morning.  We drove back to Moron and headed straight for the hotel.

Feb. 11th – 4 out of 4 of us come down with a horrendous stomach bug.  Luckily it only lasted 24 hours and Joe and I had it on separate days so we were able to take care of each other and the boys.  But man, oh man, let me tell you, a family of 4 with a stomach bug in a hotel room is not a pretty thing.

Feb. 15th – Final out of our house.  Goodbye La Ramira with your beautiful backyard full of fruit trees and tropical island-feel pool.  Goodbye Francisco, my friendly vegetable delivery guy.  Goodbye Ana Mari, my lovely little old neighbor who always brought over mysterious, if not yummy, Spanish food.  Goodbye crazy stray dogs and cats.  But most sad to me was saying goodbye to the home where my 2 babies were born.

Feb. 19th – My friends showed up at our hotel room in Spain and surprised me with a night out.  They blindfolded me, shoved me in a car and drove me around until I was completely and utterly confused about our destination.  We ended up having an amazing slumber party at the hotel complete with matching pajamas, manis and pedis, ice cream sundaes, a chick flick, face masks and lots of much needed girl time together.  How did I get so lucky to meet these amazing women?  They are like sisters to me.

Feb. 21st – After surviving the Super Stomach Bug of 2011 we all proceeded to get the Horrendous Head Cold of 2011 (can you tell I like alliteration, sorry).  Joe left for his trek up north to Belgium, with a packed car, 2 cats, a whole lotta luggage and a bag full of beef jerky.  His 20+ hours of driving took him 3 days but he was a trooper and made it safe and sound just hours before we arrived.

Feb. 24th – The boys and I had to say goodbye to so many of our close friends.  It was so hard for me to see my little “Baby Buddy” say goodbye to the only friends he’s known in his short little life.  He had such great older friends, who treated him like their little brother and he still asks about them all the time.  I wonder what goes on his little brain when he says, “Steve-O buh-bye.  Steve-O hugs.  Steve-O sad.”  (Steve-O is my BFF, Brandy’s husband, who is like Tripp’s 2nd Dad, they were very close.)  I still tear up thinking about my little guy and how he doesn’t really understand our whole move.

I was so lucky to have two of my very best friends agree to accompany me, my two little Misters and all my luggage to Belgium.  What helping hands they were, on the plane, in the airport, and just to have them there while making such a big transition was amazing.  We arrived to Chievres Air Base late Thurs. night, ordered some pizza, called a taxi for the next morning and finally laid our heads down for some much needed sleep.


Holy cow, what can I say about this.  My friends and I had to take advantage of the fact that we were only 2 hours away from Paris so we hopped on the speed train early Friday morning and were in Paris in an hour and a half.  We wandered around the city, took the Batobus down the Seine, shopped till we dropped, saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, ate at the oldest cafe in Paris, Cafe Procope and had the 2 funniest and best cab drivers ever.  It was such a great day to spend with my chicas before having to say goodbye to them.

They headed to Bruges, Belgium the next day but the babies and I were still sick and trying to fight off our colds so we didn’t want to venture out in the rain.

I was so sad to say goodbye to them and without their help I never would have made it to Belgium with the babies, the luggage and my sanity.  Thanks for everything Brandy and Meagan.

March 1st – Real life sets in.  My friends were on their way back to warm sunny Spain, we’re living in a teeny tiny hotel room with Tripp in a Pack and Play, us on a mattress on the floor and Huddy in a dresser drawer (padded with blankets he can’t suffocate on and he can’t crawl or roll out so don’t go calling DCF on me please).

Our in-processing and house hunting began, including checklists for Joe and myself.  All my military friends know what an in-processing looks like but to those of you not familiar with the military way of life there are extensive lists of things you need to do before you leave your current location and when you arrive at your new location.  I’m not sure if it’s because of all the nations stationed here at Shape or because of the Belgian system but the in-processing here seems quite different than the other bases we’ve been to (Florida, Korea and Spain).

The house hunting alone seemed so daunting.  There were briefings, lists, option numbers, appointments, waiting periods all the while knowing Joe was leaving for a TDY (military business trip) a week after arriving in Belgium.  During the course of our first week here we went to see over 12 houses.  They all ran together.  Some stuck out as NOs immediately and others were maybes, with the possibility of a 2nd visit.  Then the day before we were prepared to sign a lease on a house we thought was the one I saw a post on the Shape Families FB page.  I called the current American tenants who graciously invited me to come see the house that day.  Since Joe was in meetings and briefings at Shape all day and the babies were already asleep in the car I decided to venture out to a little town called Lombise to take a look at this house.  The family living there was lovely, so helpful and their house was perfect for us.  I ran home (back to the hotel), picked Joe up and we ran to another house listing appt.  We really liked that one as well and on the way to that house I told him about the Lombise house.  I called the woman back and asked her if I could bring my husband by, knowing it was dinner time and super last minute.  She said sure and away we went back over the one lane winding country roads.  Joe fell in love with the house as well, the tenants introduced us to a few of the neighbors and we decided that night we wanted that house.  We didn’t know if it was already listed at the housing office or if anyone had their name on the list for it yet but I decided to get up at the crack of dawn, get the boys ready and head to the housing office first thing in the morning.  I was sitting in the waiting room at 8:15 AM (they don’t open until 9 AM, can you tell I was anxious?)  Luckily it hadn’t been put on the board and we were first in line.  They called the landlord who was in the office by 10 AM with Joe to sign the lease.  The rest is history and we are so excited about our new house.  And now I can sleep at night and not worry about lists and option numbers anymore.  God totally took care of us.  The house is perfect for us, there is plenty of room for visitors, entertaining, a playroom for the boys, a craft room for me, a spacious kitchen and open floor plan living/dining room.  And it comes complete with a great landlord, super friendly and helpful neighbors, a small playground for the kiddos and a Belgian preschool for Tripp down the road.  We could not ask for anything more.

March 4th – Joe left for Germany for a week-long class and the boys and I are just wasting time, trying to keep from going crazy in this tiny hotel room.  We can’t wait for him to get back on Friday night.  We did find the local coffee shop though. A Cappucino and a chocolate covered Belgian waffle run us 3,30 Euros – way cheaper than Starbucks.

So far Belgium is great, the people are so friendly, the food is so good, and there are so many activities to get involved in.  (And I don’t think I could use the word ‘so’ any more than I already have.)  Living on tiny Moron Air Base for 3 years where we didn’t have a lot of activities and we found our own things to do, this endless schedule of options is really fun and refreshing.  I took the babies to an international playgroup yesterday, they are signed up for 2 – 3 hours of Mommy Time Child Development Center a week, my American supermarket and Dr. office is no longer 1.5 hours away and they eat dinner before 10 PM here.  While we greatly miss our friends and family we are excited about our upcoming adventure here.

Now to just learn French and stop saying Si and Hola to everyone.


2 thoughts on “Bienvenue en Belgique

  1. Mel,
    I haven’t read your blog in quite awhile. I just love hearing about you and your family. This is really a wonderful treasure you are creating.

  2. Mel!! I loved reading your update!! Congratulations to you guys on another exciting move. Sounds like you have some awesome adventures and new friends waiting for you, and some great ones left behind in Spain, so fun. We miss you guys! Those boys are ADORABLE!!! Hope to meet them someday soon. Hugs!

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