I hate moving

I hate moving

I hate moving.

What else can I pack? Did I pack it logically? What should I get rid of?

My Lord, the amount of crap people collect over the years. “oh, here is a museum ticket form our trip to the south of France from nine years ago…”

I am sooooo ready to do some Marie Kondo type of organizing and go ridiculously minimalistic.

However…even though my brain wants it…that other part of me is having a hard time letting go of useless mementos from another life.

I hate moving

The inevitable is happening. We have to. I want to move. But…

I hate moving. It is expensive, stressful, tiring and I always worry something will go wrong (broken or lost items, etc). I also don’t like leaving places I feel comfortable in. When I live somewhere I get to know the area, the layout, the people, the transit times, etc. Sometimes (if I am not moving far) only a small amount changes, but it is still an adjustment and settling in can be daunting.

I do my best to overcome any issues by cleaning, making lots of lists, packing and planning ahead, but it doesn’t always help to assuage the stress. Instead, I try to focus on the good things that will come out of it. In our upcoming move, it is the garden we are looking forward to and the central heating. We have been freezing our butts off these past few winters so we will be moving just in time.

It might be a small thing, but sometimes having even just one good point, can help to alleviate a lot of new.

Ok, going to go back to the packing. U-g-h!

I hate moving

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Goodbye and taking a distance

Goodbye and taking a distance

I have been trying to write a coherent text about the last past year for a while now and for a specific purpose. To leave this all behind me from now on and to move forward.

I have been able to hurt, cry and heal this past year and now in a month I will be leaving our home behind to start a new life.

Goodbye and taking a distance

Relationships are freaking difficult. Just as difficult as blogging about divorces, it now appears. But divorces are really much worse. Practically and financially they are hopeless, but that is just the beginning. I had to grieve and say goodbye to my entire life as I had imagined. I once saw the love of my life in that other person, my ex. The other person once made my heart beat so hard that it made me so bloody nervous everytime we were near to each other. I remember the flow of hormones that screamed through my body the first time we kissed.

We had so much between us and our relationship felt sometimes as if it was overflowing with love. We had made huge lifelong commitments. We moved in together, raised our children from separate relationships together, got married, adopted a dog and then we became incredibly blessed by welcoming a child of us both.

Well, that has been a long time ago and can now be classified as adorable, cute and fun.

Because suddenly there were reasons to break that commitment. Not just the case of someone cheating on the other person, no. Serious reasons. Abuse, drugging, spousal rape, and child rape.

And now I have chosen to say goodbye and distance myself from him. Even though he does not want the divorce. Even though overzealous people tell me that it is not God’s will for us to divorce.

I try to distance myself from my emotions, from the hurtful things that people have said. From him so I can try to divide my life as I would have built it up by two. The math will never be right, I will always be left with less anyway.

In this there are only victims.

But I choose not to be one. I want to heal from this. And slowly, I am.

Goodbye and taking a distance

My 5 New School Year resolutions

My 5 New School Year resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The coming of the New Year does not give me the sense of a new beginning like September does. School life has been part of my life non-stop since I was 5 years old. If it was not my own school life it was that of my children. This September I decided that I wanted to switch things up for my 5 year old, hence my 5 new school year resolutions.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

  1. Getting to school 15 minutes earlier: I used to get to school just on time by the end of the last school year. I drive my son in our cargo bike when he could easily bike himself, but I always seem pressed for time and that’s a pity. I’m resolved to leaving earlier and to hopefully get him to bike himself more regularly and arrive earlier at school so he can fit in some playing time before school starts.
  2. Less screen time after school: My son has just spent a whole day at school and it’s easy to simply let him sit down in front of his iPad and unwind, but by doing this we don’t really connect and get to do fun stuff together. So I want to do more activities together after school. If it’s a short walk with the dogs, board games or crafts. Those things should not be only done during the weekends, but after school, I want to re-connect.
  3. Add more diversity to my son’s lunchbox: We do bento lunches (we use the Yumbox), but my son has somehow reduced the things that he likes to eat to sandwiches with cheese and jam (it’s a Belgian thing), cucumbers, grapes, Ikea chicken meatballs, and nuts. This year I’m going to sneak in something new each week. Hopefully, this will broaden his very limited taste.
  4. Getting my son to help with dinner: Again, it’s easy to just flip on the Ipad so I can get some cooking done, but I want more quality time with my son right? And I want him to start appreciating different kinds of food more, so instead of heading for the kitchen myself, I will encourage my son to help me out with dinner. He loves making pancakes with me on weekends so why not dinner from time to time. We will make this time together fun.
  5. I won’t let guilt grip me: All of us mom’s/parents feel the guilt from time to time. Certainly when you see on social media all the things other parents do (In fact, according to a recent study by UK charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62% reported feeling inadequate and 60% reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.). I need to remember that my good intentions are there. But I have my limitations too. Last school year I was just trying to survive a brutal divorce, I am chronically ill and need to take care of myself if I want to take care of others. So I will try to keep that in mind this year and if I had a bad day, I will try to do better the next.

Motherhood is a hard, lonely journey. Maybe, just maybe, we can find it in our hearts to be kind to ourselves and remember that fact. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to do better the next day and that, by God’s grace is what I will try to do.

So here were my 5 New School Year resolutions. Have you made any? Am I being too ambitious? I would love to hear from you.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

When your trust has been broken

When your trust has been broken

The breakdown of my marriage had caused so much confusion and sadness.

It even evoked a sense of mourning.

It felt like my husband had died.

It felt like this person I had trusted and sincerely believed in, no longer existed.

Have you ever experienced a loss like that?

If your trust has been broken, it can even be traumatic. Some dare not to trust anyone anymore. They struggle with depression and with loneliness.

I know of a few “sisters” for whom this is a reality.

How your trust can be destroyed if you are abandoned by your family, by friends or by the brothers and sisters of your church.

How great is the disappointment if your spouse cheats on you, if you are bullied or ignored by other people…If you trust a person, you will be embarrassed

Psalm 146 is clear about that.

You trust someone who is just as sinful, weak and mortal as you are. His plans go into the grave with him. His power, wealth and intelligence, his talks and his pretenses. They do not make him any more than he is … A man!

Can we trust?

Does this mean that you cannot have a role model, a mentor or that you cannot admire someone? That you cannot take an example from someone, and that you cannot maintain a strong relationship of trust with another person?

Of course, you can!

As long as we continue to see the other as a person “with whom there is no salvation.”

We can have salvation and we can experience happiness, but we should not depend on another human for that.

There is only One in whom we can fully trust. Our God, immortal, unchangeable, the Truth itself. Our Father, who always does what He says.

When your trust has been broken

He is the only one in whom a sinful and weak person can count on. The only one.

Because He is the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, King for eternity! 

When your trust has been broken

The best summer activities we did so far.

the best summer activities

So bye bye July, what a month you were. The heatwave nearly killed me, thank God that it only lasted about 3-4 days.

EEEEEEEEEEH, I’m a born and bred Canadian. I like my summer’s warm, but not scorching hot. What I really love is the fall, it’s my favorite season but it was the winter that I was dreaming for during that heatwave. I made a promise to God that I would NEVER complain about the rain again and I’m sticking to it.

So for besides those 4 days in hell where you could hardly move, we had a great summer already.

I would not be a mom blogger if I did not share with you another list of must doe’s, just to give you all some inspiration so here are the best summer activities we did so far.

Just a reminder: I’m a Canadian native living in the suburbs of Antwerp Belgium. I’m a mom of three, with two “kids” still living at home. My 25-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son. We are sometimes accompanied by our two Doxies Toby and Charlie. And we travel mainly by cargo bike or transit.

This is what we have done so far

We also did quite a bit of crafting, lego building, baking and board games. Looking at the upcoming weather forecast for the next week, it looks like we will be doing more of those things in August.

So you don’t need to go on far away exotic trips during the summer, just explore your surroundings.

“Mommy, I have such a fun life”…mister 5 year-old during bedtime.

I must be doing something good.

The best summer activities we did so far.

What’s wrong with me?

spousal abuse healing

What’s wrong with me? That sentence was one of the first things that popped into my head while finding out what my husband had done. What’s wrong with me?

To make a really, unbelievable, long story short; my husband drugged me he could have intercourse with me while I was unconscious.

I found out one morning after waking up and having a black-out. I did my research, confronted him with our pastor and a friend and after he tried denying it at first, he did finally admit to doing it. He said that he did it for me, because “I was having chronic pain and would not take medication to relieve the pain and that it made me more willing and loving…”

What’s wrong with me?

This was the first of the many things he would admit too. After surrendering himself to the police after I gave him the ultimatum to do so, he admitted to having been doing this for ten years, and that he had done the same to my daughter once. This daughter is from a previous relationship. He co-raised her from the age of 13 years-old and when we heard the details of what he had done to her from our lawyer, she turned to me and saidbut he was my dad“.

What’s wrong with us?

Why was I still asking this question?

Because some people did ask me if it was because of something I had done, or rather the lack of.

“Why would he do this, he was such a good man. Did you not give him enough sex or attention? “

I don’t believe their intention was to cause me(us) harm, but their comments placed shame on me. Those are the types of words that take root and cause us to blame ourselves.

Traumatic events can leave us feeling like something is horribly wrong with us. We question our worth, lovability, belonging, and—for some of us—even our very right to exist. Recovery takes bravery.

After my mother had shared my story through the “Go Fund Me” website, it hit social media and people have been reaching out to me. Sharing their stories. Women, men who got out of the deepest pits by never giving up, until the truth of what happened to them and who they are setting their hearts free. 

It’s not our fault!

And freedom is possible. I have hope and faith and love and with all that, all is possible.

Shalom,

What's wrong with me?

Helping me to understand was a Bible plan on You VersionHealing The Wounds of Sexual Betrayal” by D. Sheri Keffer. I found this Bible plan so helpful that I went on to buy the book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I am so thankful for Dr. Sheri’s candor, wisdom, and practical advice. She writes not only as an accomplished clinician with the training, experience, and research to back her claims but also with the knowledge of someone who’s been there and comes through stronger on the other side. This book combines helpful graphics, powerful anecdotes, spiritual guidance, and “tell it like it really is” authenticity. Whether you’ve been wounded or walk alongside those that have, this book should immediately catapult to the top of your “must-read” list.

“Free” things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Free things to do this summer with kids in Antwerp

Looking for free things to do with kids in Antwerp?

The summer is almost halfway done. Some of you are having a blast, others are struggling with keeping their kids occupied. If you are like me, a single mom on a budget, you want to keep the vacation costs low. So here are a few of my favorite places to go in Antwerp with my 5 1/2-year-old son.

So what free things can you do in Antwerp with kids?

SUMMER BARS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.
Zomerbar -Sloepenweg Antwerpen

One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends and kids is visiting a child-friendly summer bar. And “Antwerpen” has a lot of them. For all types of people. The family people, the hipsters, the fancy pants …and so on.

We have been to the “Zomerbar” at the Sloepenweg for a few years now, just because my son loves it so much, heck even my 25 year old and her boyfriend love it.

You have an open-air library and there is even a volunteer who will read a story to the children twice a day.

This year they built this awesome a boathouse with slide up in a tree.

And when it is really hot outside, they put out puddle baths for the kiddos to cool off in.

Coming by electrical bike? Great, you can even charge your battery there.

Have some spending money? Book a circus show. Or order some great food from the food trucs there. Believe me, you will love the Zomerbar, or you will find another one that suits your needs better. Give them a try.

Check out this LINK to see if there is a Summer bar near you.

PETTING ZOO’s (kinderboerderijen)

You have many of those here in Belgium. Most of them also have a tavern and/or a playground in the vicinity. For us, in Brasschaat we love going to the Mikerf Farm. It is situated in the ‘De Mik” domain where they also have a real castle and towers. You can picknick at the lake before or after visiting the farm animals. It is a magical place.

You can even order a “fairytale walk” (sprookjespad) for your child’s birthday. Have a look here, and use google translate.

Other farms that we have visited:

PLAYGROUNDS

But you already knew this idea right?

Our favourite playgrounds?

If you are planning a trip to Bokrijk or would not mind driving out a bit further, we highly recommend the playground next to the open-air museum. IT IS HUGE! You can pack a picknick and easily stay there all day. Read about my review of our day trip to Bokrijk HERE.

BAREFOOT TRAILS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

They offer the opportunity to walk barefoot for some distance and to feel the natural ground and various materials with bare feet soles.

In addition, visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for bare feet. These healthy combinations of barefoot hiking and playing have become popular tourist attractions.

I’m including a few small free ones, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money on a memorable trail, then I would strongly recommend the barefoot trail in Zutendaal. (google translate if needed).

We absolutely loved it there. We went there when my son was a toddler and I carried him half way on my back in the carrier and will never forget walking through a deep thrench with water up to above my belly button, with a sleeping toddler on my back. Going back with my 5 year old again for payback time. Ha!

LIBRARIES

Some of them have air conditioning, some organize workshops. Ours in Brasschaat even has a play area. So go look online and make a morning of it.

I like going on Monday’s because you also have the weekly market going on and my son loves to then get the waffle on a stick. Yep, it’s a real thing. And delicious.

Most towns have their own library.

PUBLIC FOUNTAINS

Some towns have play fountains. Just check online or ask in your local towns Facebook group .

The ones we have tried out:

ROOFTOP OF THE MAS MUSEUM

What a great piece of architecture and design. The MAS has free admission. There is only an entrance fee for the permanent and tempory exhibitions.

Located in the trendy “Eilandje” neighbourhood this eye popping museum is a must to do. You have to keep in mind that you do need to take the escalator up 8 flights, but the view is totaly worth it.

Keep an eye on their website, they organize many child activities and workshops like treasure hunts. And this during most school holidays for all ages.

Where?

MAS | Museum aan de Stroom

Hanzestedenplaats 1
2000 Antwerp
tel. +32 3 338 44 00
mas@antwerpen.be

BOEKENBERG SWIMMING LAKE

The swimming facility in the Boekenbergpark in Deurne is an ecological swimming pond. Plants purify the water in a natural way, so the pool contains no chemicals. There is a large pond of 73 m long with a depth between 1.80 and 2.50 m. There is also a small play pool with a depth of 50 cm and a large lawn area to sit and lie on.

Yes, also this place is FREE!

What do you need to bring then?

  • Fitted swimsuit, bathingsuit or bikini.
  • An elastic band to tie long hairs together.
  • A 2 euro coin for the lockers.

Where?

Zwemvijver Boekenberg
Van Baurscheitlaan ter hoogte van nr. 68
2100 Deurne
tel. 03 411 19 95 
zwembad.boekenberg@stad.antwerpen.be

PLAYDATES

I’m going to end this post with the cheapest and for me one of the nicest free activities, and those are playdates.

When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any “hostess of the year” awards—but I am totally okay with that. I keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home. The kids get to play with other toys (kids love our dress-up rack) and mom’s get to relax, talk and enjoy some good coffee or tea. As simple as that. When you invite, you get invited back, especially useful in the summertime when in need of a pool. 🙂

Am I missing something you LOVE? Just let me know in the comments below.

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Bokrijk with kids

Bokrijk day trip with kids

Bokrijk with kids. It is more than just an open-air museum! At the Bokrijk open-air museum, history is brought to life in these traditional buildings thanks to talented craftsmen and actors.

If you love history like me, this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! But even if you don’t love history, still this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Bokrijk with kids? What’s it about?

Well, it’s a park and and open-air museum which displays more than 148 historical authentic buildings dating back from the 17th century right up until 1950.

There are three main clusters at the museum:

-The Kempen

-“East and West Flanders”

-“Haspengouw and the Maasland”

There is also an area dedicated to the sixties but we did not have time to do it as we promised the kids that they could play in the wonderful playground before going home.

We went in near the parking number 1 parking lot. We were greeted by this wonderfully recently restored windmill. It pretty much showed us what to expect from the rest of the museum.

We started in the Kempen and spent the first 1,5 hour there. I thought that was it until my companion said that we didn’t even do a third of the parc yet. Oops! We spent so much time there because of the “Speelschuur” translate: “The games barn”. The kids had a hoot trying out all the different types of “olden day games”.

Next time we visit we will not start there as it was hard to get the children to move on. But it was a fun experience. It kind of made me want to do more of the simple game and life stuff.

You can walk back in time along a path that winds its way through the different parts of the museum site and step into historical buildings that line the pathway, see the traditional working farms and even see people (actors) cooking their meals.

We wandered along the pathway past hedgerows, wildflowers and goats grazing on the lush green grass. The Bokrijk Open Air Museum has a quirky charm. But watch out for the herd of sheep that are being led to another field by their shepherd and the sheepdogs. It was quite unexpected thing to see happening on our path.

Top tips for visiting Bokrijk

THE TRADITIONAL GAMES BARN IN THE MOL – ZELM BARN

Stilt walking, shuffleboard, mast climbing, bowling and much more! This is the place to hone your skills on the Flemish folk games of yore, an experience for the whole family that mustn’t be missed! But do not start here otherwise you will have a hard time getting the kids to move on.

WORKSHOPS

Currently, there is a ‘from grain to bread’ workshop route. Along this workshop route different aspects of the production process come into play. Every day museum visitors can become acquainted with bread dough in the Wortel workshop barn.

THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL IN WAASLAND

Visit the little church and hear the pastor preach from the pulpit and you can even attend a class in the tiny schoolhouse and hear about how children lived in those days. When we attended class, it was 1913, the year before the school became compulsory in Belgium for children from 6 to 12 years old. Not many farmers were happy with this new regulation as children were a cheap help force in the home and on the farm.

One of our children even demonstrates a punishment that was given in class besides wearing the donkey ears. She had to sit with her knees into wooden clogs and hold up two bricks. It looked painful but she thought it was cool. I wouldn’t want to go to school in those days and my son was less than impressed, seeking solace in my arms.

THE PLAYGROUND

This was really what my son was looking forward to at the end of the day. I haven’t ever seen a playground like this before to be honest, it’s quite impressive. You could even sit there for the entire day and still the children will not want to go home.

Mega slides, swings, a climbing net, mini-cars, miniature golf and even a real toddler town with a HOPLA corner! The outdoor playground in Bokrijk is not only enormous, but it was also great fun. There is a zone for every age, and it is fully fenced. For children with disabilities, there are special playthings.

The restrooms are not what you would expect from a public playground. They are new, fancy and clean. There is a first aid post for if anything happens to your little one (or yourself). There is also a food and drink stand and picknick tables all around. Shaded under a tent or not.

To see some pictures of the playground go and visit the “Seeing beautiful places” blog.

We will go back!

There’s still so much to explore and so much that we haven’t seen yet. We will definitely be coming back. Bringing my picknick blanket for sure!

Our group?

We were four adults with 5 children between the ages of 8 and 5 years old.

I noticed that this is one of the few museums where you could bring your dog with you, but dogs are NOT allowed in the playground. Just so you know.

Now go on, plan a visit and let me know what you enjoyed most!

For more information on prices and opening hours follow THIS link.

You might also enjoy this day out at the Museum of Natural Science (the Dino museum) in Brussels!

Bokrijk with kids

My Armor of God

Armor of God

I have been wearing my armor of God.

It has been beaten.

It has been trampled.

It has been stomped on.

It has been crushed.

It has now been pierced.

It still encases my soul, but barely.

I feel that if it receives one more blow, it will be forever broken.

Lord, will you please replace my armor with a new one, before I am fully broken?

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long. Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul”(Psalm 86:1-4).

5 things you can do besides saying that “you’ll pray” ​

5 things you can do besides saying that "you'll pray" ​

Sharing today with you 5 things you can do besides saying that “you’ll pray”

I’ve done it and I’ve also been at the receiving end of it ( a lot lately). When someone is telling you about how they are suffering or hurting and all you can come up with at that moment is “I will pray for you”. If you are part of a Christian community you’ve probably said this a hundred times. That doesn’t seem quite good enough, but it was all you could think of.

As believers in Jesus, we are charged to walk alongside each other in our pain. We are called to mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:14). We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). We are to be compassionate, gentle, and patient with each other (Eph. 4:21 Pet. 3:8). So what else can we do?

Let us actually pray

Let us actually pray. I tried to write down the names of people who needed prayer. I tried to sum them all up in my daily prayers, but I am very guilty of often forgetting. I try to normalize praying as good as I can for my children. We live on a busy road and we often hear the ambulance speeding by, or a fire truck or the police. When we hear the sirens in the distance my 5-year-old and I say a quick prayer. “Lord help them”. So immediate prayer works best for us and I try implement that now in other situations. When talking to someone I offer to pray there and then. It’s funny how many Christians this actually throws off guard. “You mean, right now?” “Yes — absolutely. Let’s pray.” I also pray immediately when I read that someone is asking for prayer or is obviously suffering or going through something rough on social media. It doesn’t have to fancy, God knows that I’m a pretty casual prayer. He just loves us talking to Him.

Actually help

“Can I do something?” …People, in general, don’t want to bother others with their burdens. I’m pretty guilty of that. I don’t want people thinking that I am having a pitty party. But I have learned from a few very good friends of mine who have helped me through a crisis that sometimes, as a friend you just need to take over for a bit. People that are overwhelmed by grief have a hard time asking for help and sometimes don’t even know what they need. Like the “Nike” slogan says it, “just do it”. “Just” drop off that meal.” Just” drop by with flowers, “just” pick up the phone and call them. “Just” drop of some sushi or groceries (my favorite). What you sense they need, just do it.

Express sorrow, shock, and regret.

You must enter into the other person’s experience. Try to imagine how they are feeling. What are they thinking? What choices do they face? What might they be feeling physically? What would it be like to see the world through their eyes? What are their greatest fears?

Let them hurt

It’s hard, we don’t want others to be in pain. It makes us sad, it makes us uncomfortable, we don’t know what to do. But sometimes it is what it is and all they can do in the moment is hurt. You just can’t stop it. Acknowledge the inability of words to truly ease the pain.

Follow up

In dramatic life events, people are usually swamped by people’s offers of help and comforting words. But as time goes on people assume that the person has moved on, but moving on implies that the person is able to. Sometimes they are not. Pure and simple. That’s why it’s important to continue to let them know that you are still there for them. They need time and nobody can tell them how much is enough.

This is my personal opinion as how you can help others besides pray. These are things that I have found helpful and try to do for others as well. I would really appreciate knowing about how people have helped you in the past and what you have taken from it towards helping others yourself.

Be blessed, my friends and try these tips as to the 5 things you can do besides saying that “you’ll pray” ​.

5 things you can do besides saying that "you'll pray" ​