10 July 2009, Friday
Hello Little Ladybug,
Well little darling, we slept in a little bit again this morning because the effects of jet lag are still kicking us in the tushy. After breakfast, mommy finally had the opportunity to unpack and get organized… it feels so good. While I was up in our room moving things around, you went downstairs to the table and started painting. Melanie loved watching how serious you are when you paint, and was amazed at what a little pro you look like when you are “in the moment.” You are one lucky little girl to be staying with Melanie because she is an amazing artist who will teach you many things while we are here visiting. She cannot wait to spend some special time with you painting and sculpting in her studio.
After our lazy and artistic morning, we piled into the van and started driving again. This time to a place called Hoogstraten. We were lucky to visit a beautiful, ancient, Catholic Church with 40 foot high ceilings, gorgeious stained-glass windows, and hand-carved wooden sculptures. Although you thought the church was gorgeous, you found the accoustics and the long center aisle the perfect place to try your musical renditions of Mamma Mia (we made sure that there was no one else in the building first). Surrounding the church were buildings that were originally used as housing for the nuns, but now are rented to upper-middleclass people from the town (this fact seems funny to me… humble rooms once inhabited by nuns, now rented by wealthy people from town). In one of the former nun’s chambers we visited a quaint art museum with some beautiful paintings and sculptures. This was the perfect place for you to observe some beautiful artwork… and play a little hide-and-seek with daddy in the various rooms.
After wandering around the rainy city a little bit more (yes, we encountered some more rain today), we went to a wonderful restaurant for lunch. You were such a good little girl there. You ate some delicious tomato soup with meatballs, with a nice bottle of apple juice to wash it down. Toward the end of our meal, the waitress came by our table with a special little gift for you, a puzzle game. You thanked her and then gave her hug… something that then made the chef call you back to the kitchen. He pulled out a few little toys and told you to choose two toys… you chose a toy mini-camera, and your favorite, the whistle. You must have impressed them very much because Melanie commented later that restaurant workers never do special things like that for children. Wow little girl, those restaurant workers thought you were very special.
We hopped back into the vehicle and made our way to a large warehouse filled with many, many, many different varieties of beverages. Your daddy’s favorite section was the beer section, where we spent about 30 minutes wandering up and down the aisles looking at all of the varieties of beer and their accompanying glasses. You see, here in Belgium, they take their beer very seriously. When a person consumes a Belgian beer, he or she must do so from the perfect glass that was made specifically for that beer. It may seem funny to us here in the United States to be so picky, but in Belgium, beer “is more of an experience than it is a beverage. It’s the fabulous beer in front of you, the food it’s served with, and the glass it’s in – and every beer has its glass. Pubs with 300 beers have 300 different glasses. Even something as pedestrian as pouring is an art and is executed with artistry and care” (retrieved 10 July 2009, http://www.belgianstyle.com/mmguide/glass/glass.html). Knowing this fact about how special Belgian beer is to its people makes the following story quite funny. The day before we left for our trip, Nana F., you and I went to a bank to get some traveler’s checks. While there the bank teller asked you where we were going. You, very excitedly proclaimed, “We are going to Belgium… they have very yummy beer there.” Needless to say, we all started laughing hysterically. Apparently daddy has been expressing to you his excitement about enjoying the beer a little too much. So, I told you, “Ladybug, I suggest you tell people about the yummy chocolate from now on. That will get you in less trouble.”
Now that we are back at Marcel and Melanie’s home, we are relaxing after a nice dinner, and a fun-filled day. We finished our evening with a couple scoops of ice cream… honestly it was the absolutely best ice cream I have ever tasted. Your mommy actually ooohed and aaahed after every single bite. Who knew, the Belgians not only have the best beer and chocolate, but also the best ice cream. I cannot wait to find out what other wonderful things we can find while we are here.
Here are some more wonderful photos from today's excursion.
Mela & Nana
You in church
An ornate chair at church
You in the rain with you fun umbrella
Hanging out on a bench ouside the nun's quarters
Dancing with Melanie
Daddy and Melanie in the restaurant
You sitting on a chair in Hoogstraten.
Keep being the wonderful, happy, sweet, funny, kind, endearing, loving, silly, and amazing little girl that you are. You make everyone around you so happy. I love you kiddo! Sleep tight…
18 hours ago