Monday, August 30, 2010

Bicycle Race Day, August 29, 2010, Vossem, Belgium, the race went right in front of our house!!
The officials to the far right and the lead car!! Here they come!!
A moped in the race too? Isn't that cheating?
Here they are!!!
There they go!!! I wonder who will win? Apparently the race was THREE HOURS long, I don't know how many times they went by our house. Wendy counted at least 8 times! We didn't make it to the "festival" in the village square because it was so drizzly and cold!!

This picture was taken from the master bedroom on the second floor through the screen on a cloudy, rainy evening. The pumpkins are in the garden of the neighbor across the street. The colors here are AMAZING!!!

The cows across the street enjoying their breakfast, while we wait for the school bus in the rain!!

Kaitlyn and Wendy getting Kaitlyn's school supplies ready for her first day of school!! "Mom, I'm scared to go to school. What if no one likes me?" We have this conversation EVERY year. She ALWAYS finds a friend!!

Kaitlyn's first day of school. Waiting for the bus, in the rain. Girl, where is your umbrella? Oh yeah, we haven't bought one yet!! Have a great day!!! We love you!!!
So this last week was a bit frustrating.

We discovered last week that we are on a different pay cycle and wouldn't get paid for another week!! No one bothered to tell us that. It's a good thing all of our bills had been paid before we left the states and we were able to buy enough food to last three weeks.
We had the water softener system serviced this last week and that was interesting. The system is fairly new so it shouldn't have to be filled as often as most of the softeners in the area. Five 25 kilo bags should do for 6 months he says. We will see. The water here is extremely harsh and so everything has to be serviced a certain way. The dishwasher, coffee makers, irons all have to have salt added to them so that they work properly. What a treat! The guy that came to service the softener was very friendly.

We have been trying to decide whether to send for our Lincoln Town Car or buy one here in Belgium. After realizing how narrow most of the streets are here we decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to send for our car. There was a lady at Dave's work that is PCSing this week and wouldn't be able to take her car with her, so she offered it to us for 1000 Euro, which roughly translate to $1300. It's a 1996 Honda four door, teal colored and runs pretty well. Because we don't have our Belgian ID cards yet we can't take possession of the car "legally" and register it in our name. But she was kind enough to let us take possession of it on Saturday night. It is nice to have the mobility and freedom to go where we want and not have to rely on others.

We have wonderful neighbors who where willing to take us to the commissary on Saturday. It is an hour drive each way, so it made a for a long day. The local grocery store is really good and has a lot of American products, or at least products that we are used to. We try to buy fresh fruits and veggies, milk and eggs, and fresh bread, all locally just because it is usually fresher.
(on the way to school)
Last Wednesday was back to school night at Brussels American School (BAS) and BBQ. The school has been under construction this summer, they have added new state-of-the-art music/art building, new gym/auditorium, and some other out buildings. The school is extremely small as far as enrollment is concerned, about 400 students from K-12. There is one class for each grade K-5. It is a good thing that we went because they had Kaitlyn enrolled in the 6th grade!! We got that fixed. We also found out that poor Kaitlyn has to have 4 shots by the end of September. She catches the bus right on the corner from our house. She starts school on Monday, August 30.

Friday we had to go to NATO to get our pictures taken for all the IDs we have to have over here. We had to be escorted EVERY where we went!! It was rediculous! Once we passed through security there are places, such as the library, bank, cafateria, gift shop, and gym, that we are allowed to use once we get our IDs, but not without our official IDs. Someone over at the Embassy had lost or deleted our pictures for our Belgian IDs, so we had to have those taken again as well!! The Belgian IDs must be approved by the Belgian government and it takes between six weeks and three months to have that done!!! UGH!!! Now we are two weeks delayed. (We have to have Belgian IDs in order "own" a vehicle.)

Wendy has decided that since the Beglian government won't allow her to stay as a dependent with us without enrolling and attending a government "approved" college she will be returning to the states in about two months. She will go back to Utah and live with her grandparents. That means we will be losing two children in a six month period. It makes us sad but at the same time we know that our children have to spread there wings eventually.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is a park near our home, there are ducks, geese, cranes, and lots of trees!! Wendy took this picture on one of her walks.
This was taken in the village of Vossem where we live.
This is the village square on festival day. Lots of Beer tents!!

This is our home in Vossem, Tervuren, Belgium. The address is Hertstraat 3.

This is the street sign for the house we live.

Wow!! School starts in FIVE days!! I am so excited!! Kaitlyn might not be excited, but I am!! She will be in the Fifth Grade. I can't believe it! She is growing up so fast. She has seen parts of the world in her short 11 years then I ever did at her age. The school where she will be attending is very small, someone said it has only 400 students K-12. The school is so small that the graduating class last year was a whole 27 students!! I sure hope she gets a good education and is able to catch up quickly. When she advanced to the fourth grade she was a little bit behind, but that was because her teacher was getting ready to retire and failed to teach everything that they were suppose to have learned. So when we moved back to Utah in December she was even further behind. She had caught up enough by the end of the school year that she was able to pass to the Fifth Grade. She will have to work a little bit harder this year so that she can understand everything, but that's where Wendy and I come in.

I have tried to homeschool all the girls each year to help them through the year. Making sure that they learn what they are suppose to, but also making sure that they understand each concept. It helps me learn as well. This summer I haven't been able to do much homeschooling with Kaitlyn because of the move and all the uphevel we have had in our family. We also try to teach Gospel principles with these lessons. I think this year we will be working really hard.

We are all so bored right now because we don't have any of our things here with us. We have the clothes, iPods, laptops, a few toys, and a couple of books we brought with us in our suitcases. We are so used to having everything we want or need within our reach that this sitting around with nothing to do is driving us insane!! School will at least give us something to do, or at least Kaitlyn will have something to do each night, homework!! I just looked at the email that tells us when our household goods will be delivered by, October 4. What is that, five more weeks? UGH!!!

We miss our Aimee so much!! We have talked to her a couple of times on the phone and chat with her on Facebook and Instant Messanger almost daily. My parents say she is doing a lot better than we all thought she would as far as missing us goes. She is maturing and blossoming right before their eyes, they love it. I'm so glad that she is getting to have that one on one time with them. It's good for her too because she is learning to serve, something that she will be doing a lot of while she is on her mission. She is getting very excited about going to the MTC, learning a new language, and getting out there to teach the Gospel!! I hope she treasures the memories that she is creating with her grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles that she is spending so much time with. She was so excited because she went to the grocery store by herself, cooked by herself, and is learning all those homemaking skills that she let Wendy or I do for her. She never had the patience or desire to do those simple things, now she HAS to do them. I knew she could do it!!! Thank you Mom and Dad for supporting her and helping her during this time!!!!

Wendy is so ready to be doing something!! She starts school again next month, so hopefully that will keep her busy, but she wants to be doing other things. I hope that she is able to find those things to do that helps her to be happy. She has said a couple of times that she wants to paint, but everything is not here yet!! It also looks like she will have to return to the US in a year unless she switches schools and enrolls at a college that the Belgian government recognizes. She wants to stay with us until we return to the states, but is okay with having to return if she has to. We just want her to be happy. She wants to be involved with the Single Adults here, so hopefully she will be able to do that.

We will be getting a car this weekend for our use until we get our Belgian IDs. Every person that lives in Belgium must have an ID, in order to DO anything. We can't purchase a car until we have those IDs!!! It takes any where from 1 to 3 months to get those IDs!! We got our pictures taken for those IDs two weeks ago, but the lady that was processing the paperwork LOST those pictures, so we have to go do that AGAIN on Friday!!

The country is beautiful!! We love all the green!!! We haven't been able to see a whole lot because it is quite expensive to ride the public transportation, so we are waiting to get a car so we can go explore. Dave and I have been trying to take a walk every other night after dinner. This last weekend was the village festival. I have no idea what the festival was for, but we do know that it is help once a year in the village square for two days and three nights. We walked into the village on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday afternoon. It seemed to us that the reason for the festival was for BEER. There are a LOT of beer festivals, breweries, and bars here.

The next three years we will try to keep everyone informed of our doings, trips, outings, and experiences by updating our blog regularly. I'm aiming for once a week, some weeks may be filled with lots of things and others may be filled with very little. In any event I hope our family will enjoy "seeing" Belgium through our thoughts, words, pictures and experiences. We will also try to keep Aimee's mission experiences here as well. Those of our family that read our blog please share with family members that don't have internet. If there are any special requests just email me...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Family -- Seperated

Well, it's been a little over a month since we last updated everyone, so I guess it's time to do so again.

This last month has been full of goings-on, hellos and good-byes. In July we spent much of the time getting ready for our move to Belgium, getting as much done as we could for Aimee's mission, and Dave's surgery.

Dave was suppose to leave for Belgium on the 18th of July, but the people at Hill AFB wouldn't release him until the first of August. That ended up being a good thing because he had to have a hernia repaired before we could travel. He did very well with the surgery, no complications and he was given the go ahead to leave on the 3rd of August (we were leaving on the 6th). The week following his surgery we had the movers coming to pack us out and ship everything. Did he fully recover before we left? NO!! He is still trying to do so a month later, but is slowly recovering. We weren't able to ship our car over because we couldn't get it to a port on the west coast.

Aimee was anxious to get as much done as she could before we left since she was staying with Grandpa and Grandma. She has surprised us all by doing so much of her shopping and getting ready to go to the MTC on her own or with the help and guidance of her Grandparents. She is anxious to get to the MTC and start intense learning and language training. She has spent much needed quality time with her grandparents, and I suppose she has been enjoying her tv time too. We were able to go to the temple with her for the first time, something we were afraid we weren't going to be able to do. What a wonderful experience!!

We left for the airport bright and early on the 6th, with many tears and hugs at the curb. I must say that it was a lot easier than I thought it would be for me. Dave on the other hand had a very difficult time leaving his little girl behind. The flight over the pond wasn't as long as when we went to Italy, but still long (8 hours from Atlanta to Brussels). We arrived in Brussels on the morning of the 7th and our sponser, Edwina, was waiting for us. She drove us to our new home which is beautiful and about a half hour from the airport. Once we got our bags put away, showered and cleaned up, we went off to the commissary. The commissary is an HOUR away from our home. We were able to get some groceries and then headed home. It was about 6pm when we finally got home and we ate, then headed to bed.

We met the neighbors on Sunday and they were able to give us the name and number of our new bishop, because their daughter babysits for them. What a wonderful surprise. We were able to get a hold of the bishop on that Monday. He came over that night with his wife and give Dave a priesthood blessing and helped to give me one. We also found out that the people that lived in this house before us were also LDS!! What a wonderful coincidence!!

Last Sunday we went to our new ward which is about half American/English speaking and half French speaking. We get to use the translator headphones for sacrament meeting!! The other meetings are seperated into English and French speaking classes. Wonder how that will work for the unity of the ward?

Dave has been in-processing since we arrived. We have to in-process the American Embassy, the State Department, the Army Garrison, and NATO! Very interesting!! So far the girls and I have only done our in-processing through the American Embassy. Next week will be everything else. We discovered last night, because today should have been payday, that we are now on a different pay cycle and won't be getting paid until next week. The Lord has truly blessed us because we only bought 2 weeks worth of groceries and we still have a week's worth left. Guess it pays to pay your tithing!!

Dave is learning the publis transportation system really well. He rides the bus to the Metro (Subway) to the Tram to the bus to NATO where he works. One system is run by the French and one is used by the Flemish/Dutch and one ticket won't work for the other. Makes for getting to work a bit expensive. All our American neighbors work at NATO and if they have to be to work at the same time, they carpool. I'm not too keen on the idea of riding all those places, but we have to do what we have to do until we can get a car. We have been looking for a car because our big Lincoln Town Car will NEVER fit on these roads, they are much more narrow than the roads in Italy!! Dave has found a car and hopefully the gal will work with us for making payments each month for about three months.

We have found out that Wendy will probably have to leave us the fall after she turns 21. The Belgian government has some stupid rule about foreigners being here as a dependent. She could possibly stay if she were to enroll in a college that the Belgian government recognizes, so we will have to wait and see. We hope she can stay, but if not, hopefully her grandparents will take pity on her and let her stay with them until we return to the states.

Kaitlyn will be going to the Brussels American School at the Army Garrison. She will be in the 5th grade. The school is so small that there is only one class per grade!! The graduating senior class for 2010 was a whole 27 students!! I hope she will get a good education!!