While many enjoyed the extreme warm February day today, many will have not realized at what cost. We have to do everything, and we have to do it immediately, it’s still doable but we MUST break our addiction to fossil fuels, meat, flying, reckless consumption in general, and above all confront the head-in-the-sand denial that has prevented us from making changes we knew we had to make ages ago, but somehow kept telling ourselves weren’t necessary just yet.
I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids, having been there 10 years before with my older children I remember that I really enjoyed it. So we drove (during morning traffic, ugh) in the school bus packed with children, parents and teachers to the “Dino museum”. Even though it’s called “Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science”, locals call it the Dino museum and the children have just had a dinosaur theme in class and where all about T-Rex’s. My son was particularly excited to see his favourite dinosaur, the Diplodocus. They loved it so much that they decided after this excursion to make their own museum in school. P-r-e-t-t-y cool I must say. So let me tell you about this trip to the museum stthat inspired them.
It was a little bit more run-down than I remembered and many stuffed animals were covered in a layer of dust, many interactive activity points were broken which was a pity, but it did not really take away from the impressiveness of this all, especially the the Bernissart Iguanodons, one of the earliest and most important prehistoric discoveries ever. This exhibit does not disappoint, the nine black mounted skeletons are displayed in the same poses they were in the 1800’s. They look incredible and this alone makes the museum worth a visit.
When you enter the museum you are greeted by a huge imposing whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, it’s not the Smithsonian t-Rex kind of wow, but it still looks fantastic, and lets you know that you are in for a treat.
We unfortunately did not have time to visit the human exhibition or the temporary TEDDY and BEAR exhibition , but due to a friends daughter, who is a classmate of my son and was sick on the day of the field trip, we are planning on going back this month and we will hopefully be able to visit the rest of this very likeable museum, and I will add on to this post.
Our highlights were:
The children spent the longest time laughing, stomping and pretend running in front of the interactive dinosaur video wall. I think this must have been their most memorable part of the field trip.
The well preserved 30 Iguanodons that were discovered in a coal mine in the 19th century is probably one of the most significant discoveries of its time and the kids were impressed to say the least. Wow …when you walk into the main dinosaur exhibit room, you have a view of almost everything, this is impressive.
Another hit was measuring themselves next to a dinosaur leg bone. Got some funny face pics there.
Seeing a mammoth displayed in front of an elephant was pretty cool. (got many Ice age movie comments).
Opening dates and times:
On the 24th and 31st of December, the Museum will close at 15.00.
The Museum is closed on the 25th of December, 1st of January, and 1st of May.
Please note: the library is open Monday to Friday, between 9:00 and 12:00 and between 13:30 and 16:00. It is closed on national holidays and between Christmas and the New Year.
Adults: € 7
Students, European Youth Card (EYCA), Seniors (65+), Friends of the institute, Disabled visitors, FED+: € 6
Children under 18 (accompanied by an adult): € 4.50 (from 6 years old)
There is also the possibility for a free entry for:
for everybody on the first Wednesday of every month, after 13:00
for children under four (for TEDDY & BEAR) and under six (for the permanent exhibitions), accompanied by at least one paying adult
for Museum annual pass holders
for one accompanying person per disabled visitor
for ICOM members
for teachers with professional ID
There is a very small car park outside and is always full! If you go by car, you can park around the island but paying about 3€ or more.
You cannot really have a picnic there unless you reserve a table before hand in the lunch room. We did reserve a place (this was on a schoolday) and we really had to hurry the kids into eating quickly because there was already another class waiting, so I’m not sure how this works if you just go as a family. There is a cafetaria next to the room, but you need to order the food from there. I only ordered a well needed latte but I could see some of the stuff they had on the menu and it looked pretty decent and the prices a well. The typical Belgian lunch items like baguettes, pastries (croissants, donuts, chocolate buns). You could eat your lunch outside, but that would all depend on the weather, and hey, we are in Belgium…so be prepared.
There is a locker room if you want to leave your jackets and backpacks behind.
I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids.
This was a kindergarden class affair. I visited the Natural History Museum with my 5 year old son, two teachers, four parents and 30 children (yikes!) between the ages of 3.5 years old and 6 years old.
Have you been there before? Let me know about your experience and what is to your opinion a must see exhibition.
Today I will be writing a review for my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. The opinions are mine. I did not receive any earnings from this post, but as you will be able to read towards the end of my post, I have been compensated. Just not for writing this blog post. 😉
To be honest, I am a bit ashamed to say that I am a grown 41-year-old woman without a driver’s license.
I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in Belgium I only have one other friend without a driver’s license so I always end up having to explain to people why I don’t have one. I just never came round to it and I am actually a bit scared, but fingers crossed, I will be going for my theoretical exam (together with my 25-year-old daughter.
But even if I do pass, it will still be months before I have a full permit and even longer before I can afford a car. So, my cargo-bike is a must in my life.
I am since July 2017 the owner of the Babboe e-curve cargobike. I have 3335 km on it. It is my main way of transportation. I drive my son to school in it, I bring him to and from swimming classes, I do my groceries in it, I run my errands with it, I even drive it 30km (18miles) on Sunday’s to church (Antwerp) and back.
I want to make it clear that my views expressed in this post are entirely my own and entirely based on my experience with this cargobike. I have provided a link to the Babboe website above for anyone who wants to look them up. Nobody has asked me or paid me to write a review. My only aim in writing this is to help others who may be thinking of buying the Babboe e-curve cargobike.
I did some research beforehand, I found some helpful Facebook groups where I could read experiences from other users and I wish that I had taken their advice. There were many complaints (mainly about the spokes), but I really fell in love with the e-curve Babboe when I saw it during a test drive. I made up my mind that I wanted a three-wheeler, I wanted something that also looked pretty and because of my chronic pain, it needed the battery-powered pedal “assist”. One of the most well-known brands here in Belgium is the Babboe and I fell in love with the e-curve when I saw it.
When my cargobike got delivered (then you could only buy it online in Belgium and it was delivered 4 weeks later) I tried it out straight away of course and oh boy….it felt really weird driving it. I constantly felt like I was going to fall off. But I was determined to make it work and so I drove it 40km straight to our fixed camping spot and once I got there, I was a confident cargobike, or how they call it here, even my expat friends, a “bakfiets” driver. I loved it. My son loved it, heck, even my two Doxies love it.
But…a few weeks later the first problems arose, my brakes and lights. One brake was not working, the lights were not working and so I emailed Babboe. I also inquired about when the technician would come by for the first maintenance (included in the price we paid. I had already received an email asking me if I was satisfied with the services…for the services that I haven’t received yet). It took exactly a month before the technician came. My brakes were then finally fixed and I had received new lights. My bike was riding smoother than ever.
Then the rain cover poles broke. I emailed again, Babboe said that they were aware of the poor quality of the poles and that they were looking for a solution. In the meantime they would send me new poles. And they did, the wrong ones. Emailed them again and soon after I received the first pair or rain cover poles. But the rain cover poles have broken off 5 times during the 18 months that I have owned my e-curve.
Another issue, the wheel spokes. They too have been broken multiple times. This is apparently something that many, many Babboe owners have experienced. This is a pretty costly thing to have to happen regularly. One of my back spokes is even broken now.
And something they forget to tell you…not many bike repair shops repair your electrical cargo-bike, definitely if you have not bought it in their shop. I have two bike repair shops in walking distance of my house, but they have refused to repair my bike (one will repair the spokes but nothing else) and so I have had to rely on friends to pick me up and drop me off at another bike shop further away. Not very convenient. You can always book a maintenance and repair service at home from Babboe, but be prepared to wait many, many weeks and with a broken spoke, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible.
Oh yeah, and my battery, remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned biking 40km to our camping spot? (I still drove around with it for a few more days before I had to recharge the battery) . Well now (18 months later) the action radius is +-15km. I alternate between modes 3 and 4 and transporting one child who weighs 21kg, I weigh 70kg. My friend who owns an “e-big” bike from Babboe even bought a second battery because she could not make the trip to school and back with her kids. Not ok.
I have emailed Babboe again (I have emailed them 8 times) I feel like a complainer, but when you pay almost 2.500euro’s for a bike, you expect it to work properly. Customer service is very unsatisfactory and while they are polite, they are evasive. They say they will get back but they do not and so I have spent a few hundred euro’s to date on reparation costs.
I am writing this post, review, because I am just so very upset about the quality of my bike, while it looks great. My brakes broke again two days ago, I have yet again a broken spoke and it is making a funny sound while driving, I am worried that it’s the motor. The key to the battery of the bike is so thin that it has been bent beyond use and I will have to get a new key made today, otherwise, I will not be able to recharge the battery. I am a single mom on a very low income and I have no way to get it repaired again, let alone the money to buy a new one might this break down completely. It saddens me, I have really enjoyed driving it, my son loves it so much too and it has given us so much pleasure and freedom and I really need it, I just cannot do without and so I’m again praying for a miracle.
It is very pretty to look at. Classy.
The finishings are much nicer than the cheaper models. Especially the “leather” handles.
The display is nice and easy and it’s digital, so you know how far you can still drive before the battery runs out.
The rain cover (not the poles) is cute and you have velcro on the top for stopping it to flap down while children are getting in or out. You can also roll up sides on warmer days. It has to be -20c degrees here before my son wants the sides closed though.
Comfy seat for the driver.
The spokes, just the wheel, in general, is not strong enough for the cargobike according to two repair shops.
The battery. I know, I know that a battery loses it’s power the older it gets and by usage, but going from +-50km a year ago to 15km now…that’s ridiculous.
The rain cover polls break very easily.
The brakes…ugh, I find that the scariest.
The rear light is powered by a battery. The two front lights are powered by four AAA batteries between them. It would be great if the front lights were powered by the battery or dynamo powered. The front lights don’t give much light, plus you need to slide them on and off, meaning that they also easily slide off by themselves. I have lost one like that.
I want to again remind you, dear reader, that this has been my experience. I am not technical, so I cannot comment on the motor or stuff like that, I can only write about my experiences and how people have advised me. I advise you to do your research before buying your “bakfiets”. Go try some out or rent one for the day and even if you think that you would not be able to drive a two-wheeler bakfiets, try it out, it’s like riding a normal size bike. I wish that I had because I know now which one I would have bought then knowing what I know now.
Do you have a cargobike? Which one? I would love to hear about your experiences.
EDIT: 4 February 2019
Since writing this post about the Babboe e-curve cargo bike review, it has been shared around on social media and was the talk amongst my friends. My bike actually broke down, the crankshaft broke, leaving me in a bit of a predicament. But I am truly, truly blessed by all the wonderful people around me. People were texting me, asking if they could help with the groceries or if I needed them to bring my son to and from school. Then one mom in school even lent me her cargo bike!!! *happy dance* That was really a lifesaver for me. Thank you all again! Big love.
Now what happened next; Babboe contacted me through this blogpost and I finally got to speak to this very nice lady Aimée. She said that they (at Babboe) were very sorry for all the difficulties that I have been experiencing with the Babboe bakfiets and said that they will be sending me a technician who will hopefully be able to fix all the problems. A week later the technician came (again a very nice person who really enjoyed my coffee and cookies) and he made me a very happy mom again by :
replacing the whole rear wheel (due to the crankshaft)
new disk brake
new battery and charger
and tightened the brakes and bolts
For my lights, I can also visit a bike repair shop to get some new lights installed and Babboe will reimburse me.
So I practically have a new bike now, all done under warranty, thank goodness!!! We are again zooming all around town overjoyed by having our little piece of freedom back.
Thank you all for sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
EDIT 15th of April 2019:
So, my cargo bike has again, started to make funny noises. I’m afraid it’s the motor or something. So Babboe has gracefully proposed to replace my bike. They only do this when there have been many issues with a bike.
I am very grateful for this, it helps me to be independent, gives great joy to my son and me and I can continue to get groceries myself without having to rely on other people. It makes a big difference in our lives.
So thank you again Babboe, your generosity humbles me and alters my perception.
Thank you re-posters and thank you, dear friends, for sharing this post of my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
EDIT 9th of August 2019
I was a bit late with this update but I am very very happy to say that since writing my latest update:
That we have been so blessed by receiving a BRAND NEW Babboe cargo bike!
*Insert party ballons here*
The sweet (patient) lady who had been trying to help me sort out the problems with our previous bike realized that the problems that I had been experiencing with the cargo bike were really abnormal.
So we started a new adventure with a new e-curve. Since June we’ve had our new bike and I’m glad to say that we have not had any problems yet. I’m not going to lie, I seem to be waiting for something to happen, but that’s just me. If you know me and my life, you will know that it’s just something that stems from the very unconventional life that I’ve had up to now.
So even though we did not have much luck with our first Bike, Babboe really came through for us and I really stand by my opinion that they’re practical, beautiful, and damn fun to ride. They can haul everything from babies to groceries, to large pieces of furniture. They make moving gear through traffic-choked cities faster, and more fun, than any big air polluting car. I’m totally smitten again!
Thank you Babboe and thank you all for reading and sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.
Edit 14 January 2020
Since beginning September 2019, I have started to regularly experience flat tires. This has happened 9 times in total, 7 times it was my back tire.
It seems to happen for no apparent reason. A couple of times it had to do with the spokes breaking and puncturing the wheel. Other times have been just tiny holes. The Local bike shop has checked the outer wheel, there seems to be nothing there.
I have taken different bike routes, checked my garden for any debris, but it stays a mystery as to why I am getting so many flat tires. According to my repairman (and he guessed my bike was a Babboe without me even telling him), that this company, unfortunately, does not use the best quality and that it for sure is not made for the long distances and frequencies that I use it for and that he has had many clients of this make, with flat tires, bad batteries, and spokes breaking off.
So, maybe that is what it is. It’s a pretty bike, works well if not used for long distances.
Too bad for me I guess as I now have to look for another solution for getting my son to school and back. Making that a total of almost 25 km a day at least.
First of all my apologies for writing and posting this letter on my blog even though I doubt that you will even read it. I see some of you weekly/daily but none of you speak to me besides my brother-in-law who spoke to me once since. So because there has been almost no dialogue between us since my husband has confessed, I decided that I needed to write this down, so that I can hopefully let go. I think that this letter may also be a guiding light to others who are walking the same path as I am.
As an adoptee, I have always suffered from a feeling of abandonment and rejection. When we came into each other’s lives, I did not know my birth parents yet and I had been all alone with my two children here in Belgium for many years. When I met my husband, I met you all and I had hoped that I would finally feel like I belonged to a family.
My husband had not been very positive about some of you, he felt hurt by things past. But because I had no family, I knew how precious it was and so I encouraged him to renew the bonds. On Saturdays I would propose to visit his parents, I tried to let him see another side of his sister whom he had grown to not like and we would have weekly family dinners together. But somehow, I felt like I never was fully accepted.
I am not going to jolt down all the reasons for why I felt like this, it’s not my purpose to play the blame game. I just what state how I felt all these years. I felt, inferior. I felt out of place. I certainly did not feel loved.
I have laughed with you, I have cried with you. We were all very involved in each other’s lives.
But now, you act as if I do not exist.
The reaction that I would have preferred (but not expected) was at least that you would be as disgusted and as shocked at his behaviour and not question me as to why he did these things. Because there is NOTHING that can excuse what he has done.
And you then claim to love my son, your nephew, yet you treat his mother, the victim, with disdain. That is not loving. That is heinous.
Maybe you were disgusted and shocked, but I don’t know this because none of you have let me know. None of you have checked in on me, or on my children. And my messages are left unanswered. If I ask something I only get an answer through someone else or I am cc’d in an email. Do I have to hear from third parties that you are mad at me?
There will be no acceptable reason for me as to why you choose to ignore me. None. The least you could have done is sent me a text asking if we were ok. If your nephew was ok. I was not expecting people to choose sides, but I have had more support and help from friends and strangers than from my own (husbands) family.
Just hoping that your children will never have to experience the pain that I have been through and be blamed for a crime that was done to them.
And in case you are wondering, we are doing well despite the situation and this only due to the grace of God. We are well surrounded by friends who now are the ones who now laugh and cry with us. Because believe me, even when you see me smile, I am just wanting to cry.
I miss my nieces and nephew and love them very much. I still love my husband and have forgiven him but cannot be around him right now. I do not know what the future will bring, but I am trusting in the Lord to guide me and that all good things happen in God’s good timing.
I do want to thank you for never letting my children feel left out on birthdays and holidays even though they were not of your blood. Thank you for the good food and funny table talks and finally, thank you for helping my husband through this terrible season and I forgive you all for the pain you have caused me.
I was very hurt and bitter by you shutting me out of your lives but when I finish this letter to you, I’m letting go of that pain, anger, bitterness, and resentment. Because that is what this letter is all about.
As a child, my father gave me a little Gideons bible. I used to treasure it. Bringing it with me to church each Sunday, even before that I could read. Then as a teen, I would start taking notes, circling verses, just like my dad would. But when I became a young adult, many things had happened, that made me question God so I decided to put the blame on Him for things that had happened to me and I decided to live a life far from Him.
Yet, I still had that Gideon’s bible, it was very weathered by then. I would still flip through its tiny little silken pages and would search in the front part for a topic that I was going through at that moment. Faith, forgiveness, endurance…hoping to find answers, but my heart wasn’t willing to understand then. Life, earthly life, partying, drinking, dating…all seemed more interesting and more satisfying. but it wasn’t, because then I would not have had the need to turn to that tiny little book the day after.
Then one day, with the bible on my lap, I surrendered to God, my heart finally understood. I am still going through hardships, but I go through them now without self-pity, but rather with hope and understanding that God is still by my side, no matter what.
It’s funny that over time that I forgot about my tiny Gideon Bible. I still have it, somewhere tucked away safe, because it is falling apart. But now I have a multitude of bibles even on a phone that I use daily.
But a while back my father gave me a stack of new ones that I have distributed over the years and I still had one left. One just like mine, with a dark brown leather cover (apparently they would distribute those in jails). Golden letters and the Canadian flag on the inside. It was sitting on the bookshelf, and my youngest son who is 5 has run past that bookshelf a thousand times, but today it had caught his eye. He picked it up, flipped through the pages and I told him about my little bible.
Just like I am sharing with you. He decided that this one will be his and will mark it with his name that he loves to write. He is about the age that I was then when my relationship with my bible started. I pray that that bible might bless him as it has blessed me and that He will search for life answers there, instead of somewhere else.
Do you remember your first Bible? I would love to hear about it.
The holiday season is coming up. Some people are excited, singing Christmas music right after Halloween, others dread it. I dreaded it.
You see, for me when I think of Christmas I think of my mother-in-law who died a few days before Christmas two years ago. I think of my birth father who passed away last year just a month before Christmas. I also remember a few years back getting the news a few days after Christmas that the baby who I was carrying in my belly had no heartbeat. I will always remember all the lonely Christmases I spent during the 10 year single parenting of my two eldest children. One year Christmas was spent with me, the following year was spent with their father. Those childless christmases where the worst, because I was in a foreign country without any family and I was having a pity party, e-a-c-h and e-v-e-r-y time. The christmases with my children were of course better, I could at least cuddle them and spend time with them, but then I would feel guilty about all the things that comes (or at least what I though that) comes with Christmas. I could not afford all the presents they wanted, buy all the beautiful decorations that we would see in the stores or give them a big family Christmas dinner…
And now after having been together 13 years with my husband, I will again have to spend Christmas without a spouse. My oldest children have lives and loves of their own. It will only be me and my 5 year old this year. And you know what? I am totally ok with that.
Despite the trials we are currently going through, God is working in my life. My husband and I need to be separated right now. I am not happy with the situation. I did not ask for this situation. But I am trusting in God who makes all things work together for good to those who love God.
I decided that I could never loose everything because I will always have God. I also have finally been able to see, realize that I need to focus on the meaning of Christmas instead of the fuzzy Christmas we see around us on tv, in stores, on social media. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ people, He came to end all suffering as Revelation tells us:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
So yesterday, we got a new tree. We got new Christmas tree ornaments and my son and I are looking for new traditions to start. We will draw nearer to Christ, because he is the greatest comforter and He will lift me, us, up again. For this I am sure.
You have shown me many troubles of all kinds. But You will make me strong again. And You will bring me up again from deep in the earth. Add to my greatness, and turn to comfort me.
I had been feeling pretty proud of myself this week. I had been doing chores that I usually left for my husband, like tidying the garage, sorting out the recycling and getting it ready for the NEXT day! Wow. Usually I would look out of my window in the morning and see the garbage truck coming up and so I would dash downstairs to get everything out to the curb (leaving a trail of trash and debris behind me). Then yesterday my toaster blew a fuse and the whole house was in the dark, so my (adultish) daughter and myself were standing in the dark hallway, using her phone as a flashlight, looking for the switch to get all the electricity back on. We both felt pretty smug at that moment. “Huh, look at us, we don’t need men”.
But today, I had a(nother) “I wish that my husband was here moment”. My nearly five year old had been begging me to make him a house with some cardboard boxes we had in the garage. I had been trying to put it off, not because I don’t like making stuff. I’m the crafting queen, I love to make pretty, delicate things, sometimes messy. But building a house out of cardboard, no. That was far beyond my capabilities. But I did promise and so I started to try and make something out of it. At first it would not stand up right (‘use tape mama, papa always uses tape’)…looking for tape. Ok , using tape, how do I keep it together while taping? on no…tape is getting tangled, where are the scissors? Why are the scissors not cutting the tape?…Oh no…house is collapsing again, the roof…the roof. Aaaargh.
After a quick prayer, I was able to collect myself and started again. This thing did not need an award, it just needed to be something with a door and a window so my son could climb in and out. And that’s what I made. I put tape all around it so it would stand, I made a window/door, hung some Christmas lights and a comfy blanket in it and he is happy. I’m just not sure how long it will keep on standing. But at least I kept my promise. How will I ever be enough for my son? I still have a lot to learn.
I aspired during most of my married life to try and be that “proverbs 31 wife”, but I always felt that I compared really poorly to her. Now that I have recently become “separated” from my husband I felt even further from that kind of woman. I feel more like a “Psalm 31:9” type of person,
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
But yet, as God always does, He directed my heart once again to Proverbs 31, not as a wife this time, but as a woman of valor. I read it, I pondered on it, irritated at first, but then while looking up on the web all I could find on the matter, I came across another blog, from Rachel Evans (3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31) and one of the things that stood out to me was her comment on Esther (another strong woman that I had recently been studying about). She wrote the following:
This is the kind of woman I want to be right now, the kind of woman that I need to be to get through this because every good thing that has happened is the direct result of my relationship with God. Because even during this hard time, I have received many blessings if the form of friendships, strength and love.
Dear God, thank You for all Your blessings. You are more than enough. Thank You for all of the gifts, blessings and talents You’ve given me. I ask that You’d give me direction in using them for Your glory regardless of my circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen