Thursday, December 22, 2011


When you lose a parent, you lose so much more than only your mom or dad.
You lose the feeling of being a daughter or a son, you lose family traditions that have always been around, you lose a piece of yourself. You lose your life as it has always been - but will never be anymore in the future.

In a few weeks, it will be 4 months that my mother has passed away.
I've noticed that people forget really quickly. Once the funeral is over, the condolences and the messages of sympathy stop. Your best friends who have known you for the better part of your life, will continue to think of you. But only the people who have experienced the same loss, who really know what it's like - they continue to be there for you. They tell you the words you need to hear. They are not surprised when you cry, or when you're having a really bad day - with no apparent reason.
It's not because I smile that I don't feel any pain. The pain is always there - always.

Yes, it's almost 4 months. But I miss her more than ever.
I miss her warmth, her smile, her voice,...and above all the wonderful grandmother she would have been.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's skip it

I look at my calendar, and it approaches rapidly. December.
Or what used to be my favourite month of the year.

- Sinterklaas, still celebrated in our family, even if I stopped believing in the holy man long time ago. Mom baked gingerbread every year, I received little chocolate figurines.
- Our wedding anniversary - last year, my parents surprised us with a breakfast basket that morning.
- The Christmas market in Leuven. My mom and I made a tradition out of it. We went every year, ate oysters and drank champagne first, followed by pancakes and hot cider.
- My birthday. She made my favourite cake year after year. Last year, she brought it to Brussels through a snow storm. Almost none of my guests turned up, and I had to throw most of it away.
- Christmas, spent every single year together with my parents on holiday in a chalet in the Ardens.
- New Year, or lunch at my parents', and exchanging all the gifts under the Christmas tree.

I want to run away from it all. Of all the memories it will bring, of all the "missing" I will feel.
No, December will not be pretty.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


An email: "beautiful pictures darling. Didn't know you took one of me as well. Kisses, mom"
A text message : "Big hug, and welcome to the little man from grandma & grandpa".
A card : "dear children, happy 2011. May all your wishes come true".
A picture she took of me, the last one, with my big belly.

Everywhere I find little pieces of my mom. Just like the bread crumbs Hansje & Grietje left behind to find the way back home in the Grimm's fairy tale. I open my closet, and I see all the clothes we bought together. I go to the supermarket with my dad, and the self scanner greets my mom.
She's everywhere - and at the same time, she's so far away...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Does it make any sense to give flowers if the person for whom they're for, cannot receive them?
I don't know.
It's the first of november, meaning that the cemeteries in Belgium are abundant with flowers. And I don't know what to do. Yes, I want to give flowers to my mom. But I want her smile when she gets them. I want her to take them in her hands, unwrap them, and put them in a vase. And I want to hear her say "oh, how beautiful" and "you shouldn't have done that". Now all that is left, are silent pictures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How was it 35 years ago?

Victor is lying beside me, in his “doomoo”, babbling away – apparently he’s exceptionally talkative for such a young baby. And I realize that with each new thing he does, I’ll have the same thought “if only my mom could see / hear this”. Yesterday, we were at a birthday party of another baby who turned one. The whole time I had to hold back the tears, because the only thing I could think was “my mom will never be at one of V’s birthday parties”.

The other day I was at P’s mom , and the subject was “babies’ sleeping positions”. Some 30 years ago, all babies slept on their bellies. Now, the “policy” is to put them on their back. I was asked how I slept as a baby, and there you go. I have no one to ask – and I don’t know. How often did I wake up as a baby? I don’t know. Was I easy, difficult? I don’t know. My dad belongs to a generation where fathers never changed one single nappy, so he’s not a great source of information. I have my “baby book”, so at least I know when I had my first tooth – but I’ll never know how many sleepless nights for my mom that took.
P's mom is now of course talking non-stop about how P was as a baby, and showing all his baby pictures, comparing him with V. And I miss the other side - in what ways is V resembling me, when I was a baby? I'd like to know...

I know my mom didn’t breastfeed – simply because it was the Seventies, and almost no one did. But I also remember her saying she didn’t have enough milk. And voilĂ , here I am – in the same situation. So if only I could share all this with her.

The first week that I wasn’t together with my baby, the stress, the emotional shock, the fatigue…it all contributed to “failing boobs” from my side. From V’s side : we tried night after night, together with a nurse from neo-natal to learn him the trick – and the little man tried and tried. But his “sucking powers” were never really what they should be, and he got so tired from trying, that after a few minutes he always fell asleep. So feeding became synonym to waking V up every minute, and trying every single trick in the book to keep him awake.

We tried for almost 6 weeks : I breastfed, I gave bottle supplements after each feeding, and I used the breastpump several times a day (to stimulate, to produce more milk, to have more breastmilk for V). If there’s one image I didn’t have of motherhood, than it was me – sitting at this machine for several hours a day, a sucking cap on each breast squeezing every single drop of milk out of my boobs – and feeling like an utter failure if I didn’t get the required ml. of milk out. Almost every single minute of my day was spent on “feeding” – and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I talked to the pediatrician – who wondered why I'd kept this crazy routine going for so long already.

I felt a huge relief when we found a compromise : breastfeed in the morning, give a bottle the rest of the day. So starting last Tuesday, that’s what we did. Next day, V had some skin rash. Two days later, the skin rash became worse. Three days later, V started to refuse his bottles. On Friday morning, the skin rash was so severe, that I completely panicked. One phone call to the pediatrician, and apparently V’s allergic to the formula milk I’m giving him. So there goes the rest and peace we’d found in our “compromise”. Add guilty feelings too. And add more fatigue, as V now first refuses to drink, but is then hungry every two hours – day and night. P working late more than one evening this week, and coming home after the whole evening routine is over, and V and I are already in bed, was also not helping.

So, to summarize :

- every day, I miss my mother more and more.
- I feel like a failure because the feeding is not working.
- I feel guilty for making V sick (and one more day to go, we only know tomorrow what new milk to give him).

- I’m more tired than ever because I try to breastfeed him again throughout the day and night, asking my body more energy that it simply doesn’t have.
- I almost didn’t sleep (feeding every two hours, not being able to fall asleep again, trying to console little V who has painful cramps because of the damn formula milk, crying for my mom, waking up screaming from a nightmare I had in the one hour I did sleep).
- The physical damages are not gone – somehow I have to squeeze in about 4 doctor’s appointments per week.

And here comes the icing on the cake (if you’re still reading, that is, and are not completely fed up with me complaining by now) : P is going to be abroad for work the next few days.

So, feeling like a failure once again, because I don’t see myself staying all alone for four days & nights with a tiny baby who refuses to eat, I’m going to stay with P’s mom. Bottles, breastpump, diapers, baby bath, buggy, etc, etc,…are all moving from one place to the other as of tomorrow.

to be continued…

Friday, September 30, 2011


I miss my mom so much, now that I'm home alone with Victor.
Just because I now fully realize what an enormous support she would have been, if she'd still been here. Someone I could share all my health problems with, someone who could give me tons of advise, who would be happy to babysit if I have yet another doctor's visit, who would help me out with all the rest of the household chores. And who would have loved to do all that. And now, I cannot even call her.

P's mom is helping, she really is. In lots of ways. For which I'm very thankful.But there's just no such thing as your own mother. I mean : who else can I call when I'm in tears, just because I'm having a bad day, and I haven't slept more than an average of three-four hours the last month and a half? There was just one person who would always pick up the phone (never an answering machine), who would always listen, and always say the right things to comfort me: right, mom.

I've been trying to be so strong the past 4 weeks. And I have been. I can count the times that I really cried on one hand, and even then I fought back the tears, or had to "get a grip" to take care of Victor and carry on. Today, I just feel I'm losing the battle a bit. One wrong word and I feel guttered. A wrong look and I start to cry.

God, I miss her. There are just no words to describe the feeling. It physically hurts. Heartache, in every sense of the word.
One of my mom's best friends gave me a hug at the end of the funeral, and told me, very kindly and honestly "You know the worst is still to come, don't you?". He was so right. The longer she's away, the more I miss her.
What will I do in a couple of months, when it's my birthday, Christmas, etc? When traditions that I've known since I was born (like spending Christmas with my parents in the Ardens) will stop altogether? When I will not even hear her voice on the morning of my birthday?

If only I could just cry my eyes out for a couple of days, and sleep for a couple of nights to recover from the exhaustion that intense emotions inevitably bring with them.
Someone told me this morning : "other women do the same thing, and are able to do all that" (so in other words : why can't you? What's wrong with you that you don't seem to manage?).
Maybe I have a little bit more on my plate than "other women". That's just the facts, not self pity.
If I'm weak now, than that's only because I've tried to be strong for so long.

I miss her - but saying or writing it a thousand times still won't bring her back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

N's life 2.0

They say you're never the same after losing your mother.
They say you're life will never be the same after becoming a mother.
So what happens if those two life-changing events happen at the same time?
Let me tell you : you're lost, and you don't know how you get through it - but somehow, you wake up again in the morning (even if you haven't slept), and life goes on.

People say "I didn't know she was that sick" as an excuse for not having called, not having been in touch. Well, she had cancer. Not a cold. It's a deadly disease. What part of that didn't they understand?

People say "Little V will comfort you, and will make it easier". Well, on the contrary. V doesn't make it any easier - he makes it all far more difficult.
- when I laugh because he does something funny, I feel guilty. Who's happy when their mother has just passed away?
- when I cry because I miss my mom so much, I feel guilty. Now that I finally have what I wished for for so many years, I feel sad most of the time.
- I slept two hours the night before my mom's funeral, and the same after that most exhausting day. V's hunger doesn't take into account the fact that strong emotions already make you very tired.
- When I tried to say goodbye to my mom by going through her little things in her room, I got called away. V was hungry. No time for mourning.
- When V threw up minutes before we had to leave for the funeral, I had to leave him behind. No time to feed him, we had to be at the church in time.
- V was born and had to stay in neonatal intensive care for 7 days. At the same time my mother went to hospital for her last days. I had to choose between staying in one hospital to feed my baby, and spending what were possibly the last hours, days, in another hospital, with my mom.
- Breastfeeding can go seriously wrong because of fatigue, stress, and emotional shock. So, yes, on top of everything else, I didn't have enough milk anymore to feed little V. Resulting in feeling guilty and failing, and even more time spent on "feeding".
- the past two weeks, my life was made out of three things : trying to produce milk, being forced to rest or sleep the time in between, and doing the practical stuff for my mother's funeral. Almost no time was left to enjoy the nice things that come with a baby, like going for a walk, receiving visitors, collecting all the gifts we received, etc. I feel like a prisoner in my own apartment.
- V's birthday, and the memory if his birth, will forever be linked with the loss of my mom. I waited almost ten years to fulfill my dream - and now, sometimes, it looks like a nightmare.
- "Take good care of your dad" was one of the phrases I heard most yesterday. When or how am I supposed to do that? Believe me, in other circumstances I would be with him day and night. But as it happens, I have a three week old baby. So while we're at it, throw that as well on top of all the other guilty feelings.

So no, by no means, does V make it "easier".
But he is our little man, and I love him with all my heart.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's left

What's there left to say, after my previous post?
"I knew it?"
"I was right"?
"I felt it"?
Yesterday , the doctor told my parents that there's nothing left they can do for her. It's the end of the road.
I seriously don't know how to get through this. I wish I could just erase my life - go to sleep toninght, and never ever wake up again.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Slipping away

Now that I most need her, I feel she's not here 100% anymore. My mom.
She was always this strong presence in my life, always - really every single minute - there for me. But over the past year, the cancer really has started to take its toll. She's lost more and more weight, becoming more and more tired.

Last week, she could barely make it to our apartment on the second floor. While my dad and I installed the baby room, she had to lie down and sleep. It's hurting me - and I know it's hurting her too. I know she wants to do so much more for me at this point. But she just can't.
That's why, while washing all the baby clothes last week, I was having a good cry. I was exhausted, and I just wished I could have asked my mom to help me with all this. I wished we could have done it together - one of those special mother-daughter moments to remember forever.
She drags herself along when I go to the shop to try out some pushing chairs, but after 15 minutes she has to admit she's not up to it, and she has to go back to the car. Leaving me and my dad standing in the middle of this huge store, preparing for this very happy event, but really both swallowing down the tears.

Every minute she's feeling a bit better, she's working at this blanket  for tiny N. Every time I have her on the phone, it's "so many more rows to go until it's done" or "I did so many rows today".  She really wants to have this finished. And I really want her to be able to make many more blankets.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holiday house

A few months ago, my parents bought a little house on the Belgian coast. The last month was spent painting, buying furniture, and redecorating - and now it's all done!
That's why last weekend, we invited a couple of friends and enjoyed this new "home".
Funny thing is that I meet my entire past & family in this little house. I recognise stuff that belonged to my grandparents (like a table cloth we only used once a year, beginning of summer, when there was a fair in our hometown). I see things I used throughout my childhood at my parents' (those brown seventies coffee cups). And I see some things that used to belong to me (my first TV, that pink stereo I saved for an entire summer, my old bed sheets, ...). It's all there - like a small N's Family Life Museum :-) .

Apart from that, the house has a great little garden, where you can enjoy the sun from early morning until late in the evening, and it's only a 20 minutes' walk from the beach.
Our first weekend there had all the ingredients to make it a perfect 2-day-getaway : great weather, friends, delicious food, long beach walks, hour-long brunches in the garden,...
To be repeated pretty soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


For the fourth time in a row, my dad will be spending his birthday in hospital, keeping my mom company. 2008 she was there for surgery, 2009 for chemo, 2010 simply because she was in a very bad state, 2011 - today, it will be chemo again.
It's his 60th birthday, and in just a few days he will retire - 5 years earlier than planned - to hopefully spend some very precious quality time with mom.
Over the past 2 months, I saw him working very hard, weekend after weekend, to get their new little holiday house at the sea ready (and completely to my mom's taste). Also the last two months, he drove my mom at least two times to the emergency ward - hereby losing more than one night's sleep. And in between, he just kept getting up at 6 AM every morning to go to work.

In other words - I'm very happy that he's about to stay home. It will definitely be a huge step for him, and knowing him, it won't be easy. But it's really for the best.
So happy birthday dad - tonight I'll give you a very big kiss, and we will be happy that we made it through another year, even if we'll be celebrating in hospital once again. Love you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Working in a hospital

There are a few "particularities" about working in a hospital.
- when you're not feeling well, there's no way of hiding it
- you can wear your comfy Birkenstocks to work, and no one will find this "weird"
- you encounter people in their pyjamas while walking to your office
- you're not stressed about when to start your maternity leave. If anything should happen, you're in the right place.
- there's a newspaper + candy shop at work
- there are about 5 buslines stopping just in front
- at the end of the hallway, there's a room where you can go and watch tv
- sometimes you have to wait more than 5 minutes to catch an elevator
- when you're not wearing a uniform, people have no clue what you do
- you can have a three-course meal for 2.80 Euro
- And last but not least: there's a chapel (should you feel there's nothing left to do but pray)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roller coaster

So much is going on that I often don’t know how to feel anymore. And the raging hormones are probably not really helping either.

There are Tiny N’s little kicks – each and every single one of them making me so unbelievably happy.

There’s my mom’s illness – making me so sad I feel sick.

There’s the new job, causing stress.

It’s as if I’m on an emotional roller coaster – but I’m riding it on my own. No one seems to wonder how I’m doing it all, how I keep on going; pregnant, new job, and bad news. Yes, I feel pretty lonely. Every time I call a friend, it seems as if I’m calling at the wrong moment. Answering machine or no time to talk. Or when I do talk to them, I’m doing me very best to keep up appearances, and I just want to show the happiest side of myself. P is over his head in some project. I can’t show my mom how I’m feeling – I have to be there for her. The only one who calls me, and asks about me, about my mom, about the new job is…my mother-in-law. She seems the only one who’s aware of what’s going in my life right now. She remembers when my mom is in hospital, starting a new therapy – and she calls me to ask how it went. She hears the weather forecast and the pollen count, and calls me to see if I can still breath without antihistamines. And she seems the only one to realize what an effort it takes to start a new job in “my situation” (and even advised against it, but anyhow…).

Sorry for all the complaining, but I have to do it somewhere. I can’t keep up the happy face 24/7 as if everything is going great in my life. I’m afraid to loose one of the people I need most, I'm emotionally exhausted, and I very much need a break from it all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Mom seems to have turned a switch in her head. Maybe it’s some kind of coping mechanism, I don’t know.

“I’m feeling much better” she says. And I’m happy for her – but does she really “forget” that this is because they’ve started giving her daily doses of morphine?

“Oh, they’ve discovered another cancer lump in my neck. It’s blocking some artery, so there was a risk of blood cloths in the brain”. And she’s telling me this in the same tone of voice as “I’ve made you some chicken soup”. “But other than that it doesn’t do any harm” – okay, nice to hear that, mom.

This is followed by my dad silently telling me how she almost had a huge traffic accident at a railroad crossing after she heard the foresaid news; but clearly didn’t hear the very loud bell announcing the arrival of a train.

So yes, I’m worried. I know sometimes you have to pretend that everything is okay – just to keep on going, just to survive. Nobody can live with the idea of a deadly disease day-in day-out for three years in a row. Sometimes denial is a welcome friend.

Or maybe she just wants to spare me after my emotional crash of last week. The “Look, I’m happy and everything is okay – so you have to be happy too” – approach; in which my mom is highly qualified. But which isn’t working for me anymore. There’s my dad as well. On his own. Taking care of mom, and being there for every fall she takes. And from time to time, he has to spill it all out (however unlike him that is). So it happens that I hear about crying spells that last all night. About nerve-attacks for which only tranquilizers help. And yes, about escaping what could have been a deadly car accident on a railroad crossing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Every time I get some very bad news, I wonder how it’s possible that the world around me is just going on. The sun is shining, the weather is gorgeous, inside me there’s a small miracle happening…and yet, at these moments I wonder how such beauty can still exist. I feel as if it shouldn’t be allowed – as if it’s completely out of place, and not justified at all.

My mom’s scan results are not good. The cancer has conquered, once again. Last night, I dreamed about my grandmother. She came to me, and said I should prepare for the worst. I was very angry at her – but she stayed calm, and said “everybody dies, so will your mother. One day you’ll have to choose a coffin. You can’t be in denial – you have to face reality”.

I woke up, feeling so sick. And I knew I would get bad news today. After all, this grandmother also came to me in a dream the night she died – preparing me for the news I would get in the morning. So I knew. I knew before calling my mom at noon that it would be no good.

I don’t know how to get through this anymore. Especially not with his baby growing inside me. I want to be happy and enjoy this pregnancy. But how can I, with this huge dark cloud hanging directly above my head? I can’t help but asking myself “what have I done to deserve this” – although I know that’s a completely useless question.

I so badly need a break from this fight, that’s been going on for three years now. Hope that’s being crushed time after time. I’ d like to go to my mom now – but I simply can’t. I can’t be there for here, when I myself feel as weak and fragile as a dried leaf. I lack all strength – and I really can’t give her any hope today – as I haven’t got any myself. I can’t comfort her, when all I do is cry. I don’t know how to do this anymore, how to get through this again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just me in the morning

After living on my own for six years, and after numerous projects of P abroad, there's one thing I'm still not used too. One thing I hate. And that's being alone in the morning. Waking up in an empty house.
I don't care about the evenings, I'm not scared at night. No issues there. But that alarm clock going off, followed by the realization that there's nobody there but me....ugh.

The first year I lived in my flat, I used to call my mom every morning at 7. Next victim was a very good friend, who was stuck in traffic every morning anyway, so at least once a week, we had our morning rendez-vous on the phone. P was also on my morning-call list. And the radio had to be turned on the moment I stepped into the kitchen to ban the silence (I also had one in my bathroom).

Some habits have remained. Home alone means radio in the morning. Means calling someone at an ungodly hour. And lenghty breakfast-talks with the hamster if she's still awake.
One more morning to go - and then parents, friends and hamster can have quiet mornings again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

And it's a yes!

Yes - I took the job as language coordinator in the hospital, and today was my first day!
Turns out that after two sleepless nights (due to all kinds of pregnancy-related niceties), I was just too tired to be stressed.
Today was just "intro", as in : "oops, we have no office for you. Oh yeah, we need to find you a computer. And you already start today?!" There was a time I would get all wound up about this - now I think: cool, one day of getting paid without actually doing anything!
There's also the "challenge" of creating the job itself (it didn't exist before). So there's no hand-over, there's no "this has already been done". It's only "we want to achieve this". Let' see what miracles I can achieve in less than 5 months :-) . Without an office, and without any tools. :-) .
First on my list : a survey! Read : have chats with all the head nurses, get some numbers, and put all this information in a nice and readable report for HR. Maybe I can even go completely overboard, and  make some charts in Exel. And than present the whole thing in Powerpoint. (sounds like I became a consultant)

Anyway, it's Friday evening - I somehow made it through the day - and now all I want to do is sleep, eat and cuddle. I'm a happy person :-) .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What to do?

Right. My head's been in turmoil ever since receiving that job offer now almost two weeks ago - and I'm not an inch closer to making up my mind. I've stressed, I've cried, I've tried to forget about it. In vain.
So maybe, writing will help. Maybe just to unwind a bit.

Here's the situation : I applied for a job as a language coordinator in a Brussels' hospital.
The interview went great, the assessment was an unseen success, up until the point where I told them I was pregnant. A list of practical objections followed, last but not least: pregnant nurses have to go on maternity leave as soon as they know they're pregnant - so maybe it wasn't completely "safe" for me to work in that environment either.

I put the job out of my head. A few weeks later, I got a call from the HR director from the hospital for another interview. I thought "They're just wanting to be polite, or they're scared from a discrimination lawsuit", so I went to the second interview with the lowest of expectations. Only to find out that I was the only candidate left, and to be offered the foresaid job.
The HR manager very briefly mentioned, in between two other sentences, that he still had to check with the medical inspector whether it was okay for me to do the job, but nothing more was said about this.

Right now, I really don't know what to do or think.
They told me honestly that the other candidates were a bit dissapointing - so basically, that left them with me or nobody. I know that they're pretty desperate - the function has been open for the last five months.

So here's my little list of worries:
- why are the former objections suddenly not an issue anymore?
- is it safe for me to work in that environment or not? Am I putting tiny N at risk?
- is it really a good idea to start working more, at a moment when my energy-levels are at an all-time low?
- I need safety, security, even more than ever. Do I want to throw myself into the unknown at this point?
- what could I possibly achieve in less than five months?
- How can I proof what I'm worth when I'm feeling exhausted, and my head is basically only occupied with what's going on in my belly?
- how will I manage two different jobs (in very different parts of town), and about 3 medical exams a month,  from a practical point of view?
- Why the hell are they paying me according to my bachelor's degree, and not my two masters?
- I would have to give up teaching some of the groups and / or individual students whom I like very much
- and on the purely emotional side : I'm just so scared about this, and feeling so very very very insecure....

On the other side:
- the job seems appealing - otherwise I wouldn't have applied
- I simply need the money; that's - to be honest - the main reason why I would accept
- Most of my other classes end in june; leaving me basically unemployed as of month 7/8 of my pregnancy.
- So it gives me some jobsecurity for the next five months, and some certainty about the maternity allowance I would get.
- if it's something I like, I have the option to go back after my maternity leave - or not.

There, I've written it all down. And I'm not one step closer to feeling any better about all of this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Proud to present...

Isn't it awesome when somebody does something really cool, and you can say "I know him/her"?
As in:
"Have you heard about this INSEAD-grad who wrote a book and published it on Amazon?"
"Yes, I *know* her" :-)

So, dear readers: I proudly present you the published novel of a friend and fellow blogger :
In the Past Imperfect
It's the perfect excuse to finally buy that Kindle you've wanted for months...

If you want to follow the author's adventures on e-book publishing, they can be found here :

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A lot

Yesterday, I got a job offer.
Today, I'm flying to Tel Aviv for a one-week holiday.
All good stuff, minus the "little bump"-related stress.
New job with bump? Oh boy...How will I manage with all the medical visits in between? I have to find daycare for baby! And ..I CAN'T be stressed! It's not healthy! Aaaarrhhh!
Flying with bump? Oh help...(I have to wear the sexiest stockings you've ever seen...). How will I feel? What if something goes wrong on the plane? What if they want to put me in one of those new metal detectors?

Am I just ranting here? I am, huh? I'm loosing it.And no, I can't take a pill.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Best Bakery in Brussels

Yesterday, my morning student cancelled her lesson last-minute. Giving me the perfect opportunity to go to a place that had been on my “to-eat” list for a long time.

The destination : Charli, rue Sainte Catherine 34, 1000 Brussels.

On my arrival, the windows were a bit damped – but I soon found out the reason for this. The bakery (I mean the real workshop) is in the shop itself! Behind a glass wall, you can see the bakers at work: making croissants, taking freshly baked sugar breads out of the oven, preparing the dough, etc, etc. I took a seat on one of the high bar stools facing the workshop directly. So, needless to say, I didn’t read a single article in my newspaper. Instead, I just watched this very interesting “reality TV” , while enjoying my pain au chocolat, and one of the best hot coco’s I’ve ever had in this city.

It’s a great place to start the day, or to take a break and watch your daily bread being made. Of course, the earlier you go, the more activity you’ll be able to enjoy. Doors open at 7.30 AM. You won’t regret that half hour you got up earlier!

Oh, and while we’re doing a “Best of”, the best public toilets in Brussels are the ones in metro-station Louise. They are extremely clean. The lady even cleans with some kind of strong antibacterial soap, and puts fresh rose petals on the sinks! All this for 0,40 Euro!
(this kind of knowledge just comes with being pregnant, and having to go every 10 minutes, so hell, better share it!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Belgian Revolution

Today, I got asked by a foreign pupil (from Norway) what needs to happen before the Belgians really get fed up with the situation – and act upon it.

He had a point – we’ve broken the world record last week – and honestly, I don’t think we’re one step closer to a federal government than, let’s say..4 months ago. And no, no one seems to lose a night’s sleep over it.

But why would we? There are jobs for everyone, there’s money to go around, there’s freedom, there’s democracy (albeit not a working one – granted). And when we inevitably MUST go voting again (really, it’s only a matter of time) – sure we’ll grumble, we’ll be annoyed…and then have a big traditional Sunday lunch with the family and just wonder how long it will take them this time. No one seems to realize that all this is costing our country truckloads of (tax-) money.

Yes, there might be friendly and joyful manifestations in Brussels to tell the politicians “look, we do care” – but honestly, no one in the “Wetstraat – Rue de la Loi” is taking this seriously. Hence the reaction of foresaid politicians : “yes, we understand the manifestation. And it’s a good thing that the people care. But we can’t take any “hurried” decisions about our country”.

So when will the Belgians really get fed up – and show a bit of “badass”? Throw a few Molotov cocktails, or have a day-long protest on some big square in Brussels?
It won’t happen. You know what we did do?

- We started cancelling our memberships of political parties. Some parties have already lost 5 to 10% of their members. (naughty, isn’t it?)
- Last week, we celebrated our world record with street parties and the distribution of free fries.
- Newspaper Le Soir has organized a big betting contest. Whoever guesses the right date when we’ll have a government, wins his / her own weight in waffles
- Newspaper Het Nieuwsblad made a Belgian version of the game Stratego. The pawns are Belgian politicians.
- There’s a protest group that encourages men to let their beard grow (how any resemblance to the Taliban is going to help us, is beyond me – but who knows)
- And last but not least : there’s a website where you can “virtually” camp out in front of the main government building (
See: we have our “Tahrir Square” – it’s just online.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Free waffle!

On the day Belgium broke the world record of longest government negotiations, I was offered a free waffle! Can it get more symbolic?

The free waffle was a little present of the Belgian (government owned) mail company “bPost”, to promote their package delivery services throughout Europe. So it was no coincidence that their little waffle stand was planted smack in the middle of the European quarter (lucky me for teaching there). That we didn’t get any mail for almost 5 days last week, because they were once again on strike, was of course not mentioned. But I happily accepted my free waffle, and truth be said: it was a mighty good one! So good that I almost forgave them last week’s strike.

Maybe the Brussels’ public transport company STIB/MIVB could organise a similar action to compensate for their unannounced strike last Tuesday. Because if there ever was a bad joke…. The whole strike came about after “a metro driver was attacked by a passenger”. Then came the video of the security camera. And guess what? It was the driver who delivered the first punch.

So STIB/MIVB : tomorrow free fries for everyone?

Monday, January 31, 2011

The elephant in the room

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while, knows how passionate I am about my teaching job. Sure: some lessons I glance at my watch every 10 minutes, or there are times I just want to run out of the class room. But all in all : I do it with heart and soul.

And that’s why, for some months now, I’ve been ignoring the elephant in the room: it’s not paying the bills. In fact, I’m so horribly underpaid that even working extra hours is not making any difference. At present, I’m running from one side of the city to the other, and back – only to still end up in red at the end of the month.

So, even though it’s really not the time, and even though my mind is busy with a million other things, I need to find a solution. I think a part time job with a decent salary is what I need. Say I can spend every morning of the week doing some boring admin thing, or nausea-inducing HR stuff. That way I can still teach afternoons. Or, of course, I could be very lucky and find a full time job with a fixed contract and a decent salary in training.

I’ve been looking for 2-3 months now. So far with no results. Today, I put my cv on one of those jobsites. See of that is going to do anything. And of course, dear readers, all leads or ideas from your side are more than welcome as well!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All for nothing

And there it is: the verdict.
Months and months of the heaviest chemo-therapy have resulted in no results at all.
Nothing has changed: what was there before, is still there.
As usual, I'm angry (very) and sad. And at a complete loss for words.
All I want to do, is to escape to a warm, sunny place, and pretend (at least for a few days), that everything is okay. That mom will be okay.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Finally: sun! After days and days of the greyest weather you can imagine, and after endless rainstorms. Today the sky finally showed its true colours again. Temperatures rose ‘till a very nice 14°C, and it was just the perfect weather for a nice walk. Without umbrella, and without thermic underwear.

My parents and I went to the forest, and I truly felt re-born after a bit of very much needed sunlight and fresh air. Out of the city, into nature. The waffles and pancakes afterwards only made it even more perfect :-) .

Driving home, I saw the most beautiful sunset.

All day long I had but one regret : why the hell didn’t I bring my camera!?!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


P made me the happiest girl in the world today. In between meetings, on top of his crazy schedule, he managed to make some very special time for me. I can't put into words how much it meant to me that he was there.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Good resolutions

Well, so far I’ve been a very good girl.

- I already went to the gym twice in the new year
- This morning I joined P to the swimming pool and did 60 laps
- 90% of all my closets are cleaned out, sorted out, and put back in order
- I’m still trying to spend less time on Facebook
- I'm limiting the time I spend on lesson preparations (and stick to it)
- I’ve already lost all my holiday-pounds

If only I could keep up it all up this time!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Time to wrap up

Epiphany is over, so once again it’s time to put all the Christmas decoration back into its boxes. And every year while doing this, I have the same question : “Hmm, how will life have changed when I take these things out again?”.
Anyway, let’s get this annoying task over and done with. Bye-bye Christmas tree! See you next year!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm happy

Even if I' m hurt really badly.
Even if things are not going as I had wished and dreamed.
Even if people are letting me down.

I'm happy.

Because I have some amazing friends. Who fail to come to my birthday party when it snows, granted ;-) , but who have been life-savers the past days.
Because I have a family, which is also there for me.

And last but not least : because I have every right to be happy.
No matter how hard some people try to bring me down.

Fuck it.
I'm happy.
Too bad for those who are not.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A box of chocolates

Remember the famous quote: “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get” ?

I had been craving one certain chocolate for a very long time, and now that I finally picked it out, people are not so happy about it. And guess what? That makes the little chocolate very hard to digest, let alone enjoy.