Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 1 – From Home to Belgium

Whew, finally getting some vacation pictures posted.  My goal is to have it all up by the time the baby arrives (I’m figuring 4-ish weeks :).  I do have a disclaimer about the pictures … 1)  I was eight months pregnant so my ability to maneuver into any position other than standing was pretty much non existent.  2)  I was eight months pregnant so my patience to adjust camera settings was pretty much non existent.  3)  I have four darling children and was usually trying to keep track of them AND take pictures (this applies to any outing, whether it was a tiny village or a big city ;)  4)  I was eight months pregnant :) 

Now for the post disclaimer … these posts are sure to be pretty random … 1) I’m nine months pregnant and have minimal brain power.  2)  I’m nine months pregnant and have minimal creative abilities  3) I have four lovely children that love to “help” me with blog posts, which usually means two children sitting on my lap  4)  I’m nine months pregnant ;)

Okay, now that I’ve listed all the excuses I can think of …

Day 1 started well with a 5:30 am departure time.  We packed the car the night before and let the kids sleep in their clothes, which they thought was awesome :)  We had oatmeal cookies, fruit and chocolate milk in the car for breakfast.  The three hour drive to the EuroTunnel went smoothly and we arrived early enough to take an earlier train.  Kate was not thrilled about the underwater train concept (neither was her mother, but I tried to act cool and calm :).  We considered a couple of different options to cross the Channel, but the EuroTunnel was the fastest and the cheapest … just 35 minutes, can’t beat that!


The whole concept is a bit unnatural, don’t you think?  Here we are driving down the ramp to the train.


Here you can see the open doors where you drive your car in.  The first door leads to the lower level and the second door to the upper level.


In we go …


Emerson was so cute telling Kate and Jackson there was no need to worry … here he’s holding their hands to comfort them!


Thirty-five minutes later … off we go!


Ahh, yes, that one little detail!  Bard was a bit nervous about switching back to the other side of the road, especially with a right handed car.  The roads are set up in a way that you come off the train and transition right onto the highway, no choices to make!.  It wasn’t until we stopped for lunch in a little town, that we really had to pay attention and keep saying, “right, right, right.”  It definitely was nothing like the transition we made when we made arrived in England!  The best part was watching people’s reaction to no driver being in the left hand side, especially when driving through little towns and villages :)


We had an hour and half drive to the farm where we would be staying in Belgium.  We stopped for lunch and found a little deli where we got some very yummy sandwiches.  While we’d read that most people in Belgium spoke English, we found that outside of the bigger towns, their vocabulary was very limited.  So there was a lot of pointing :)  We had sandwiches from small shops a couple of times and they were all the same … very yummy, but different from what we’re used to.  Ham and cheese were usually the main meat choices.  The toppings were shredded carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, sliced hard boiled eggs, and mayonnaise and mustard.  Of course, there may have been more options had I been able to read the menu!

The Bruges Farm Cottage, where we stayed Tuesday through Friday was amazing!!  There were two cottages that were connected and we rented both of them (since we have an outstanding amount of children and each cottage allowed only three!).  They were located in the middle of lots of farm land and the owners had a horse, three donkeys, and a handful of sheep.  There were also chickens, rabbits, and cats :)  The kids LOVED staying here.  There were so many things to do we didn’t get to them all.  The kids were happy to stay here and play every day.  They got to feed the animals each morning and evening and gather fresh eggs.  There was a huge selection of bikes in every size, go carts, a playground, sandbox, trampoline, a playhouse hidden in the woods, and saddles to ride the donkeys. 

Here we are with Mr. Marc being introduced to the animals.  Emerson is sitting with me now and just said, “I wish we could have lived at that farm!” 


Mathis was the only one brave enough to go into the coop and check for eggs. 


As you can see, Kate wanted to be involved in everything, but her fear sometimes held her back … and she’s trying to do the same to Mathis :)


The cottages were beautiful, inside and out!  Connected to the cottages was a huge game room.  There were games like ping pong and snooker (still not sure how to play that one), but the best part was the huge amount of kids’ toys.  In the evening when it was too cold to play outside the kids had a blast in here.  There were tons of baby dolls and strollers that Kate loved playing with.  This bear was her favorite and she still asks, “why couldn’t I bring that bear home?” 

Here are some pictures of the inside … the website did a much better job than I!

Master bedroom (after I stripped the sheets :)

The kids loved these bunk beds!  They were really small, even Kate wasn’t afraid to sleep on the top bunk.

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One side of the game room                                              Emerson’s store (fruit and veg laid out on the chairs :)

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Lots of books … but not quite the right language :)


How awesome is this … wellies in every size!


Kate’s favorite bear sitting on the coloring table.


Kate watching the sheep off the back patio, with the bear, of course :)


The view from the back patio …


Mama sheep and her babies coming for a bedtime snack.  This was just off our patio, which was so nice.  The kids could hang out there while we made dinner.


saying goodnight …


The lambs were so cute, we just never got tired of watching them!


I took so many pictures of the kids feeding the animals.  It was one of the kids’ favorite things to do.  Mathis was the bravest and the main feeder, the little boys and Kate were mostly too scared to put their hands up to the animals’ mouths, so they spent most of their time watching.    If the donkey’s got there before we did, they would call out and the sounds they made were SO loud.  I kept taking videos trying to catch them, but never did :(  Jackson’s favorite was the white donkey, Abraham.  He would go out on the patio each morning and evening and call and call him.  It was so cute.  He was pretty old so he was often the last to arrive.    The shelter for the animals was right outside our bedroom window and the lambs would come and call for their mamas.  Bard said (and I had to agree) that it would probably get old if you lived there, but it was so sweet to hear their little baaa’s, even in the middle of the night!

Okay, bear with me for this lovely movie.  The kids “helped” me by picking out the pictures and music and I let them put it together and tried not to fix everything.  The song is Emerson’s favorite right now :)