Back in the Swing of the School Year

A little pre-soccer homework.

A little pre-soccer homework.

So, we’re a few weeks into the school year, and all that it includes… homework, spelling tests, school supply lists that keep getting added to, cursive writing, Greek goddess presentations.  Oh, yeah, also soccer, girl scouts, and tennis.  And lunch packing, laundry, folder signing, French to English translations of teacher handwriting, and back and forth to the base, sometimes three times a day.

Whew.

But weekends?  Weekends are for taking a break.  So we packed a lot into this past one.

Friday night there was a very important (I’m told) World Cup qualifying match between Belgium and Scotland.  Most cities in Belgium set up big screens so people could gather together to watch.  So we headed out to the grande place to join in.

Go Red Devils!

Go Red Devils!

Let me tell you what I love about this part of Europe.  It’s old.  The buildings are old, the streets are old, the churches are old.  But everything is still used.  Life goes on like it did hundreds of years ago when these things were built.  (Though now we drive on roads made for horses, which is why it’s wise to have a very small car.)  In the U.S. we guard our old things.  They aren’t used.  They are turned into museums, you buy a ticket to get in, and a newer one is built across town.  But here, the city hall of the 1400’s is still the city hall.  And this weekend, two big screens were set up in front of that city hall to broadcast a very important soccer game.  Plus techno music was pumping throughout the grand place, someone was shooting a t-shirt gun off the balcony of city hall, and the front of the buildings were lit red to support Les Diables Rouge.  Can you imagine any of that happening at, say, Colonial Williamsburg?  Not a chance.

Another thing about Mons… the Prime Minister lives here.  Brussels?  Bah!  Elio still prefers his hometown.  Plus, he’s technically still the Mayor of Mons.  Busy guy.  Not too busy to hang out on the Mons Grande Place.  With me.

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No bowtie today

I have to thank Christiane, the Belgian liason in Ben’s office, for helping me get the picture.  She’s so used to dealing with people of importance that she had no problem walking up to him, tapping him on the shoulder, and asking him if he’d take a picture with her “American friend”.  Thank you Christiane!

By the way, Belgium won 2-0.

Saturday we spent the morning at SHAPEfest.  Party time at NATO.  Rides, foods, crafts.  Your basic international fall festival.

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Foods from around the world or Kansas City BBQ?  Pulled pork for me, thanks!  It just smelled too good to pass by.

We also had to stop by the SHAPE high school football game, which was going on at the same time.  Go Spartans!  So it turned out to be a very American day, for me anyway, at SHAPEfest.

Sunday is, of course, brocante day.  We stayed close to home for this one, heading to the one at the Grand Large, a funny name for the lake-y sort of section of the canal.  There’s a pretty good brocante there every other week so, since the weather was beautiful, it was the perfect one for strolling around.

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Card collecting is very popular for the kids here.  Like modern day baseball cards.  The kids added to their collections of DreamWorks cards for her, Pokémon cards (ugh) for him.  I added to my own growing collection of pottery with an awesome moutarde pot and also a ceramic sel holder in a nice, bright green.  Ben finally found the military shovel he’s been searching for, which will be perfect for our next trip to the beach.  Next summer.

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It was too nice of a day to head inside so lunch had to be a picnic.  Sandwiches and desserts packed in the car, we looked for a nice park in which to relax.  Found one.

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Belgium’s pretty cool, huh?  Even without going more than ten miles away from home we managed to pack a weekend full of fun.  But next week I’m headed more than ten miles away.  Many, many more miles away.  Next week I’m headed to the land of Target and Starbucks and 24 hour everything!  Next week, I’m headed home.

See you then.

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