Lustrous Luxembourg

The first thing I noticed was just how clean and beautiful Luxembourg City was.  I wondered how long it would take for my kids to break something.  And alas, it took about 1 hour for them to break my spirit.

It was Belgian national day, so everything in Belgium was closed for the holiday.  What the hell were we going to do?  Then we remembered: the best part about Belgium is how quickly you can leave the country.  So, we decided to take a day trip to Luxembourg.  We got the car packed with enough supplies to support a small army and took off.  About an hour into the two hour drive, the kids were asleep.  We were nearly giddy.  We had visions of well rested, well behaved kids touring the city.  We arrived and let the kids out at an awesome and massive park.  After the first 30 seconds, the kids found the water feature and were soaked…and naked.  Hubby and I relaxed on a bench while the kids played in the water.  Then it was time to leave the park.  LadyLove had a huge poop in her pull-up.  But, this wasn’t a pull-up made for swimming.  Her massive, waterlogged poop trickled down her legs as she fought to stay in the water.

The highlight of Luxembourg

The highlight of Luxembourg.

It was then that a seemingly nice, American family approached us.  They looked at us and said, “Wow.  Are you touristing with three kids or do you live here?”  At that moment, Hubby was elbow deep in LadyLove’s shit.  Her screaming and flailing tantrum, made everyone at the park wish that they were in a hazmat suit.  Bear was standing next to me totally naked while screaming “MOMMY” on repeat.  My boob was suddenly in full view as BabyDoll decided to unlatch and scream cry.  I hadn’t processed yet that those people were talking to us.  So Hubby, between wrestling and cleaning up a biohazard, gave that poor family a look of death.  He then screamed at them “WE LIVE CLOSE” and proceeded to ignore them.  They hurriedly scurried away.

This was just before he got completely naked.

This was just before he got completely naked.

We finally pried the kids out of the park and got to a restaurant for lunch.  But the European style seating made me miss America.  The table built for one was suddenly holding lunch for four.  The kids were kicking each other under the table, standing, yelling, dropping food, and more.  It had me hissing quiet threats at them to no avail.  Hubby and I had an unpleasant meal where we tried to shove the food down our throats as quickly as possible, so we could leave the restaurant.  After lunch, we attempted to do a tourist walk around the city.  We were able to get through two thirds of the walk before the endless trantruming, taunting, arguing, whining and water bottle throwing left us with no will to live, never mind a desire to see more of Luxembourg.

At this point, we were hungry, but knew that the kids would not be able to sit through a meal at a restaurant.  Instead we decided to placate them and get some ice cream.  There was a cute looking gelato place that had a lot of outdoor seating.  I love ice cream and sadly, this was about to be the highlight of my day.  I was really looking forward to it.  Our orders arrived and the bees started swarming.  Suddenly a bee took a kamikaze dive right into my sundae.  There it stayed, unsuccessfully struggling to get free from the sticky syrup.  After Hubby had the audacity to say “Just eat around it,” I got up and walked away from the table.

This place was beautiful. Too bad my kids ruined it.

This place was beautiful. Too bad my kids ruined it.

After strapping the kids into the car without further incident, Hubby and I took a deep breath.  It was a sigh of relief.  It was already 7:30, the kids usual bedtime.  We were sure that they would be asleep in minutes, and we’d have a luxuriously quiet car ride home.  At 8:00, after a short stop to feed the baby, Bear feel asleep.  A minute later BabyDoll was out.  Two down, one to go.  As we pulled up to a long line of stopped traffic at 9:00PM, ChattyCathy was still going strong in the backseat.  It seemed like someone gave LadyLove some kind of really effective upper before putting her in the car.  She was talking, singing, and screaming nonstop.  As the car pulled into our driveway, at 10:30, LadyLove was STILL going strong.  Seriously.  We deposited the kids in bed, and I promptly fell asleep on the couch.  It was the perfect end to the perfect day.



Earlier this school year, I showed up at Bear’s school, and I found a sign taped to his classroom door.  There was a large picture of an insect on it and a lot of writing in French.  Even though I had no idea what the sign said, I knew it wasn’t good news.  I went home and consulted with my translator; Dr. Google.  Apparently the sign said that lice was going around Bear’s school, and we needed to consult our local pharmacist for treatment.  Awesome.  Despite this warning, I still believed that this wouldn’t happen to us.  We hadn’t gotten sick since we had Hand, Food, and Mouth Disease.  It was kind of incredible.  When chickenpox was running through the school like wildfire, we remained unscathed.  Our American vaccine made the kids invincible.  So, I just assumed/hoped that our hearty American immune systems would prevent us from getting lice.  I was wrong.

Yes! This!

Yes! This!

About a week after i saw the sign, I saw Bear scratch his head one time.  I was immediately alarmed.  I sat him in sunlight and checked his head.  I had no idea what I was looking for, but I didn’t see a thing.  The next day, we took a day trip to Ghent, and Bear was scratching a little more.  We got home late that evening, and I looked at his head again.  This time, his head was very obviously teeming with itchy, parasitic, crawling lice.  I took one look at this, and threw Bear off of my lap.  I washed my hands and started scratching my own head.  The feel of phantom lice was driving me crazy.

First thing in the morning, I went to the pharmacy and picked up the lice treatment and lice combs.  It was American President’s Day so Hubby had the day off.  He got to spend the morning delousing the kids, while I deloused the house.  It was SO. MUCH. WORK.  The Belgian lice had conspired against us to ruin American President’s Day.

I started doing endless loads of laundry.  The second load of laundry was done and I went to transfer it to the dryer, but when I looked in the machine, it looked like there was still some streaky soap left behind.  I let the machine go though another rinse cycle which made the white streaks worse.  I emptied the machine and found that Bear had left (not one, but) TWO pull up diapers in his hamper.  They got waterlogged and covered the laundry in diaper residue.  It looked like it had snowed in the washing machine.

Diaper snow: the gift that keeps on giving.

Diaper snow: the gift that keeps on giving.

The next weekend, we hired our responsible adult babysitter to stay overnight with our kids.  By then the lice was gone (Bear was the only one of us who actually had lice.), and I was ready for my first night away from the kids…ever.  It was glorious.  We relaxed for the weekend in Brugge.  We returned, and two days later heard from our babysitter…that she had somehow contracted The Mumps.  Yes.  Seriously.  Immunizations, don’t fail us now!

This summer, Bear is in a camp that takes the kids on regular field trips.  When they leave the building, the kids need to wear these stupid, neon orange, Gilligan style hats.  The hats get transferred from kid to kid, and I’m fairly certain that they have never been and will never be washed.  What’s more likely: the camp staff losing Bear on the metro, or Bear getting lice from one of the orange hats?  Fear not.  There are still 7 more weeks of camp left to find out the answer to this question.  That’s plenty of time for Bear to get lice just before we leave for our summer vacation.

Pooping In The Park

As soon as you’re feeling comfortable, your kids can sense it, and then they ruthlessly take that comfort away from you.  I was feeling like an incredibly successful parent.  I had potty trained BigBoyBear with no effort at all.  One day, when he was 3.5 years old, I was convinced that he would graduate high school in diapers.  To allay my fears, I put Bear in regular undies and sent him to school.  “Good luck!” I called as he walked into his classroom.  But, for reasons I can’t explain, my lazy approach worked.  Bear was suddenly potty trained.  I was feeling smug and complacent.

Then, it happened.  We were playing at the park when I saw Bear freeze, and his eyes glazed over.  He immediately gave me a panicked look and said “I need to go poopoo!”  Ok, no big deal.  The park is literally one block from our house.  But nope, Bear couldn’t wait.  He had to go immediately and looked like he was already starting to push.  Then I panicked.  I looked around the park.  Fortunately, it was one of the first 40 degree days, so it was too cold for Belgians to be outside.  We were in the park alone.  I walked over to Bear, pulled down his pants and undies and helped him squat.  He immediately pushed out some of the largest kid/man/human poop that ever existed.  Seriously.  At the same time, LadyLove knew that I was distracted and made her break for the traffic filled street.

Then, I made Bear stand there, with his pants around his ankles, in the chilly temps.  I ran and caught up with LadyLove who was laughing like a psychotic hyena about 5 feet from the street.  I carried her back and strapped her into the stroller.  This caused her to scream and created quite a scene.  At that point, I realized that there were now two other families in the park.  One was watching LadyLove scream, and the other was watching Bear stand motionless with his pants and undies around his ankles.

I wheeled the stroller over to Bear and looked for LadyLove’s baby wipes.  I found them and wiped Bear’s tush.  I had nowhere to put the trash.  Yup.  I left a pile of wipes next to his pile of poop.  Then, we made a quick escape.

I Couldn’t Make This Up…

I heard a loud bang.  I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye just as I heard the noise, but I couldn’t be sure.  I asked BigBoyBear, “did you just hear that noise?”  He said, “yes Mommy, I heard a noise.”  Now I was confused, “BigBoyBear, did you bang on the table?  Did you make that noise?”  I think he was confused too, “yes, I did make that noise.  I banged on the table like this!”  Oh, I assumed that my previous electrocution and lack of contact with other humans had made me insane.  I casually walked over to the sliding glass doors to get closer to the source of the noise.  As I looked out of the window, I saw it there on the ground.  Apparently this house and its location is so distasteful, even to birds, that it caused one to commit suicide.  That’s right.  There was a dead bird laying on the ground.  I guess flying full speed, into our glass doors, killed it.  “Mommy, why are you closing the curtain?  It’s still morning,” said BigBoyBear.  “Oh, it’s just too bright outside for me.  I’d like it a little darker in here,” is how I responded.  Please note that it was completely overcast outside and about to rain…

Here's the proof.

Here’s the proof.

My bad luck in Brussels is not exclusive to animals.  It has extended to our belongings.  A few days before we moved, I looked at our “to do list.”  It was a million pages long.  Each time Hubby or I left the house we tried to knock a few errands off of the list.  As I was mailing some things at the UPS store, I realized that I could multitask.  We needed to mail some things from our car to our new address in Brussels.  You have to ship the car completely empty, for fear that anything inside (literally anything) will be stolen.  I took the floor mats out of the car and the large privacy cover for the trunk area.  As I wrestled it through the UPS door, I was relieved to know that they would box it all for me.  I spent an inordinate amount of time and money in the store.  I guess a suburban UPS store is only entitled to two high school employees at any given time.  As I watched her measure the floor mats for the 6th time, I felt myself begin to twitch.  When her boyfriend dropped by, and she took a short break to kiss him, I felt my blood begin to boil.  After 64 minutes of watching her slowly work and giving her the shipping address 59475648939576 times, I was finally done.  She handed me a receipt to sign.  In a fit of rage, I scribbled my signature and ran out totally relieved to be free of the car parts, an errand, and the UPS store.

Two days ago I tracked the package, because it still hadn’t arrived.  Suddenly I realized that the shipping address on the website was totally incorrect.  Ha ha I thought, at least I have the receipt!  Then I looked at it.  Above my angry, illegible signature was the shipping address.  It was incorrect.  I never bothered to look at the receipt in my rush to free myself from the store.  Now, we’re in Brussels, our car is somewhere on the Atlantic ocean, and our car parts are in Panama City.  Awesome.

Oops, We Did It Again

That’s right.  We’re back in action!  We’re overseas and spreading disease!  We embarked upon another international flight with sick kids.  Oh America, thanks for the year of memories…and the Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease that just wouldn’t quit.

I know it’s been awhile since I last wrote.  Since last posting, BabyBear has become BigBoyBear, LadyLove was born in Paris, and we moved back to the DC area.  After a brief intermission for our European lifestyle, we’re back on the right side of the Atlantic.  It’s fitting that my last blog post 2 years ago detailed how we took our diseased child on an airplane.  That was much like our most recent flight to Europe…

We argued in the hotel.  Hubby wanted to leave for the airport 5 days early.  Ok, I’m exaggerating…kind of.  Hubby wanted to leave for the airport 5 hours before our flight.  I convinced him that we could leave 3 hours prior.  Huge mistake.  I forgot what it’s like when you’re traveling with 2 kids, eight pieces of luggage, a travel crib, a giant double stroller, a car seat, and 5 carry on bags.  As I watched the elderly cab driver slowly try to rearrange a heavy suitcase in the back of his SUV, I still wasn’t concerned that we would be late.  When we had to take an “alternate route” because of traffic, I wasn’t concerned.  When I realized I left my cell phone in the cab, I wasn’t concerned.  When Hubby said he’d wait for the cabby to return in 25 minutes, i still wasn’t concerned.  When I got downstairs and saw the hour long line to get through security, I was concerned.  I made it to the gate just as the last passenger boarded the flight, and hubby was way behind.  Now I was panicking.  After I explained my situation to the gate agent, she told me that I needed to immediately decide if I would board the flight without Hubby.  Are you kidding me?  They must have felt pity on me, seeing the carry-on gear I had in tow, and gave me a few seconds to perform emergency diaper changes.  Thankfully, as they were getting ready to close the door, I saw Hubby round the corner, running, dragging a giant carseat, sweating, and frantic.  As we got on the jetway, they locked the door behind us.  This was exactly the way we wanted to start the trip.

We strapped LadyLove in her car seat and she promptly decided to cry for the entire flight.  Maybe it was the Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease that was getting her down.  At least the doctor told us that the kids weren’t contagious and that adults never get it.  We landed, and the next day, I got Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.  Here we are.  Welcome to Brussels!

Here is a view of LadyLove's Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease on the airplane.

Here is a view of LadyLove’s Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease on the airplane.

It’s now approaching our two weekiversary here, and I’m losing it.  I wish I was joking as much as I wish the driver was joking when he dropped us off at our temporary house.  Oh rural Belgium, I’m trying to appreciate you.  We’re stuck in a house, with no toys, no school, no playgrounds, with nothing to do.  I’ve been as creative as possible, but mostly the kids and I go for walks every morning.  One day, I realized that we live one minute away from a horse farm.  Because I’m desperately trying to find things for the kids to do, I thought it would be fun to let them feed the horses.  One day we took the hour long walk (one way) into town to buy carrots.  I got the kids excited and we set out for the horse farm.  I stopped the stroller next to the fence and let BigBoyBear out.  He was kind of excited and kind of scared.  He was too freaked out to attempt to feed the horses himself.  That’s when I decided to show him that there was no reason to be afraid.  A horse approached.  I reached over the fence, and as the horse made contact with the carrot, I screamed and jumped back from the fence.  It was electrified.  That’s right.  The horse and I both got shocked, and BigBoyBear cried.  I deserved it.



On Friday we’re moving to better temporary housing in Brussels.  I hope the urban location will ensure that I’m nowhere near horses and unlabeled electrified fences.

Biological Warfare

First there were two bumps…and then four…and then ten…and then I was nervous.  We were scheduled to leave for a vacation in Portugal the next day, and I thought that BabyBear had the pox: chickenpox.  How could this happen?  He had gotten the first dose of the chicken pox vaccine, but he clearly and obviously had red bumps developing all over his body.  It was the morning of our flight and I was panicking.  What do we do?  Do we still go on vacation?  Do we bring our highly contagious baby onto an airplane full of unvaccinated French babies?

Does “SOS” stand for “Snide, Outrageous, and Smug”?

We did what we thought we had to do.  We called dial-a-doctor.  Paris has something called SOS Medecin.  At any hour, on any day, they send a doctor to your home within one hour.  Hubby was on the phone and within 2 minutes (literally) we heard a knock at our door.  The arrogant doctor took one quick look at BabyBear and immediately said, “Oh no, there’s no way that he has chicken pox.  It’s just mosquito bites.”  We told him we were concerned because I’m pregnant, and we were scheduled to leave for vacation that afternoon.  He then wrote us a letter for the airline that declared our baby, who had very visible red pox on his face, fit to fly.  As thoughts of sun and beaches reentered our head, we walked the doctor to the door.

On his way out, he looked me up and down and said, “How many months pregnant are you?”  I responded with “4.5.”  He then paused, stared at my belly, and said, “How much weight have you gained?”  How much weight have YOU gained asshole?  This question clearly wasn’t related to BabyBear’s pox.  I looked at him, laughed and said “Ooooooook, thanks for coming, bye-bye,” and slammed the door in his face.

We decided to go on vacation and left for the airport.  As we were checking in, the lady behind the counter looked down at BabyBear.  “Are those mosquito bites?” Hubby and I both responded, much too quickly and emphatically, with a resounding “YES! BUG BITES, YES!”

I find the sand irresistible, but not in the same way that BabyBear finds it irresistibly tasty.

After infecting the entire flight, we arrived in Portugal and had a great vacation.  We spent the mornings at the beach where BabyBear enjoyed eating the sand and the afternoons at the pool where BabyBear enjoyed drinking the pool water.  Each day, we watched his pox get worse.  Too quickly the week was over and it was time to go back to Paris.  We really wanted to get home, but were afraid that they wouldn’t let BabyBear on the plane.  What were we going to do?

We frantically ran up and down the aisles of the supermarket. We were scheduled to fly from Portugal to Paris the following day, and BabyBear’s face was covered with pox.  Paranoid Hubby did some internet research and found out that EasyJet had a very strict policy regarding flying with chicken pox.  In fact, they recently made an entire family disembark a plane when the flight attendant noticed the baby’s pox marks.  We were nervous.  We really wanted to get home and take BabyBear to see his doctor.  We didn’t want to get stuck living in a hotel in Portugal. As I was looking for the cheapest concealer the supermarket had, I had visions of people in HAZMAT suits escorting us off of the plane. 

I thought that this was one of my best ideas. Ever.

It was almost 90 degrees outside the day of departure…and we dressed BabyBear in long jeans and a long sleeve shirt.  The poor kid was warm.  Then we enacted the last part of our plan.  Before we got in a cab to go to the airport, Hubby held down BabyBear and I applied the makeup.  He did not want to suffer this indignity and thrashed around like a fish out of water.  But, we did it, and he looked passable.  We made it through check in and knew the last obstacle would be the flight attendants.  There were still a couple of hours before boarding and we had to let our restless, angry, and highly contagious child out of the confines of his stroller.  He had a blast running through the airport infecting every unvaccinated child in the vicinity (They don’t vaccinate for chicken pox in Europe.).  When we had to put him back into the stroller to board the plane, I took one look at him and my face went pale.  Due to his running around and sweating, all of the makeup had worn off.

I put him in the stroller and took out my little stick of concealer.  I started to cover all of the red bumps for a second time.  As I did this, I loudly said in a sickeningly cheery voice, “Here you go!!  This will help your bug bites stop itching!!!!!!”  I hoped that this would explain away my incredibly odd behavior…to the non-English speaking people sitting near me.

Note to self: don’t assume that BabyBear will sleep on the plane if you book a nighttime flight.

We made it onto the plane, the doors closed, and we took off.  Hubby and I both felt relieved.  We felt guilty for sneaking BabyBear on the plane, but his behavior on the 2.5 hour flight back was punishment enough.

The next day we took BabyBear to his doctor.  You know you’re in trouble when the doctor has to get out medical books to do some research during your appointment.  The doctor was convinced that BabyBear couldn’t have chicken pox because he had the vaccine and the pox lasted too long.  So, the doctor tested BabyBear.  The test came back negative for chickenpox…


Turd Birds

We’ll never sleep late ever again.  Ever.  One Sunday morning, BabyBear woke up at 5:00AM.  Awesome.  After ignoring him for 45 minutes, his cute babbles turned into angry yelling.  Fine.  It’s 5:45.  You win.  We’re all up for the day.  So, after we had breakfast and got dressed, we realized that it was only 7:30AM.  What the hell do you do at 7:30 on a Sunday?  Well, we decided to go to the park.  We hoped that letting BabyBear run around in the heat would totally exhaust him.  This would lead to a gloriously long nap in the afternoon…for all of us.  So, off to the park we went.  I must admit that Hubby and I were both a little groggy.  We tag-teamed the childcare so one of us would follow around BabyBear and the other would sit (comatose) on the bench.

It was my up.  It was nearing 8:30 and the park was filling up.  More and more bleary-eyed parents were showing up with their hyperactive children.  I was standing one inch away from BabyBear and I watched him bend down, pick something up, and immediately shove it into his mouth.  That was enough to snap me out of my dreamy daze.  I immediately yelled, “No eating!”  Then I bent down to shove my dirty fingers into his mouth.  I was fishing around for the object BabyBear had tried to eat.  I was expecting a rock, because those had been his favorite snack lately.  But instead, I felt a big mushy blob.  I pulled it (as much of it as possible) out of his mouth, and looked to see what I had retrieved.  And…I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth.  I realized that I had just taken a big, green hunk of bird poop out of BabyBear’s mouth.  I was so disgusted.  I looked up and yelled across the park to Hubby, “EW EW EW!!  HE JUST ATE SHIT!  LITERALLY!”  At that point, I realized that many of the people in the park were English speakers…as they all stared at me in abject horror.

Bird Poop

Does this look appetizing to you?

What was I supposed to do now?  I wiped the poop from my finger onto the dirt ground.  Next I picked up BabyBear, like a football, and ran him over to the stroller like I was running for the game-winning touchdown.  I immediately took out some hand sanitizing wipes and wiped off my hands first (let’s not forget our priorities).  Then I wiped off BabyBear’s hands and face. I was contemplating wiping down the inside of his mouth, but instead, I offered him some water so he could wash down the poop.  Then we left the park.