Thursday, September 04, 2008
Belgium to the Fifth Power
This was my fifth time visiting Belgium. Here's a compendium:
Visit 1 (2001): We were engaged and I hadn't yet met anyone in RaggedyDad's family but his mother.
Complicating factor: Being not-yet-married, we were staying in different places. Cell phones were not as ubiquitous as they are now, so we spent a lot of time looking for each other at corners and checking our watches.
Nice factor: RaggedyDad's family drove us around to see some very interesting, off-the-beaten-path parts of the country. It was very fascinating and very new.
Visit 2(2002): We were married for a little under a year.
Complicating factor: None!
Nice factor: No kids yet meant lots of freedom and very little luggage. We took a side-trip to Paris for a day.
Visit 3(2004): We went with Ann when she was a year old.
Complicating factor: Longish flight with a baby; more luggage than we were used to; baby Ann nearly fed ham-and-cheese baby food by well-meaning relatives
Nice factor: Ann and her cousin, five months older than she is, getting to know each other
Visit 4(2006): Ann was 3, Andy was nearly 1.
Complicating factor: Hottest weather in Belgium in all the times I've been there. Nobody has air conditioning. Nobody has screens on their windows. Mosquito bites galore. In the news, Bush has just refused to sign Kyoto accord, so everyone seems to be blaming me for the heat!
Nice factor: RaggedyDad's sister moved into a house between this visit and the previous one, and her yard is enormous by our standards. Kids have a blast outdoors on grass, play equipment, and in kiddie pool.
Visit 5 (2008) Ann is 5, Andy is nearly 3, Little Rag is 1
Complicating factor: Ann is 5, Andy is nearly 3, Little Rag is 1. Complicated enough, no? The five of us share a bedroom for 2 weeks. The airports we are traveling to and from are kind of far.
Nice factor: The look on RaggedyDad's grandparents' faces as they saw the three kids, especially the baby, who looks just like RaggedyDad. Having a car for the first time while there gave us a much greater degree of freedom (as much as we can really achieve) and a sense of family exclusivity.
Next up . . . Tour the caves of Han-sur-Lesse with the Raggedies and a contingent of surprise guests!