Friday, June 24, 2011


Chocoholics (you know who you are) have a preference in how they consume their chocolate ranging from "I'm really desperate" to "OOOooo mmmmmm."

Mine scale looks something like this - 1 being desperate 10 being my very favorite

1.  Dry Nestle Quick
2.  Cookie with chocolate in it
3.  Chocolate cake
4.  From a box brownies
5.  Chocolate pudding
6.  Single source dark chocolate
7.  From scratch brownies
8.  Angelina's Hot Chocolate **
9.  Flourless Chocolate cake
10.  High quality chocolate ganache

** Via the sister-in-law network (Anne to Susan to me) I learned of a lovely restaurant in Paris called Angelina's.  They are known for their hot chocolate for good reason.  It comes served like this.  The hot chocolate (and it is chocolate not cocoa) is in the little pitcher and it is nice and hot.  There is a small cup of whipped cream (unsweetened).  From here, you create your perfect cup of hot chocolate.

Kyra and I shared this cup.  As I have taught my daughter well,  we did not add sugar to the hot chocolate.  It was nicely sweet as is.  If you like yours sweeter, there is sugar on the table.   We did add some whipped cream.  Which gave us a cup that looked like this ...

I wish I could give you a taste of it, as it was lovely.

And if you like croque monsierus, Angelina's had the best croque monsieur I've ever had.  All in all an enjoyable place for lunch.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"I Need A Day Trip to Paris"

When asked where she wanted to go this summer, Kyra listed Italy, Copenhagen and "I need a day trip to Paris."  Don't we all?

This statement could only come from the mouth of a wonderfully spoiled child (and she is).  But in context it is not so awful as it may seem.

Context -
Paris by train is less than two hours away.  For my northern Virginia friends, think of it as going to Richmond and back in the same day.

Kids here will in one breath tell you they don't travel much and in the next breath list off 3-5 countries they have visited this year.  "My family doesn't travel much."  "Well, where did you go for Christmas?"  "Oh, we went skiing in Germany and took a day trip to Paris."

When Kyra and I went to Paris in December, the Eiffel Tower looked like this.  One day we could sort of make out the top of the tower through the fog, but mostly it looked only partially built.

Had this been a once in a life time trip (which for many people it is) the Eiffel Tower enveloped in fog would have been most disappointing. Kyra ever the pragmatist, looked at it and said "well, we'll just have to come back."

So go back we did.  Yesterday started off rainy and gray.  So we started with indoor activities - the Louvre (Kyra is free) and lunch.  While the Louvre doesn't lack for popularity (particularly when it is raining) I knew once in, we'd be out of the crowds.  Why?  Because I wanted to visit the History of the Louvre exhibition.  So unpopular that the signs for this exhibit are only in French.

After lunch at Angelinas (separate blog post, maybe tomorrow) we began our walk to the Eiffel Tower.

As you can see, the day was lovely.  I have not done anything to enhance the photo.  The sky was a beautiful blue.  The clouds were white and fluffy and we enjoyed a nice breeze.

Kyra and I enjoyed a trip to the top of the tower and Kyra got her much hoped for photos of her with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Now to see if we can indulge her other travel wishes....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Results of Second Surgery

First  - fair warning some of the photos below you may find gross.  If scars, surgery, etc makes you squeamish, stop now.  By the way his grandmother requested the photos.

Some history - Allen broke his arm (compound fracture of right forearm bones) doing parkour (click link for more info) on May 1, 2010.

On May 2 he had surgery to repair the break.  His bones were held together by two plates and 13 screws.  No cast just hardware.

In the ensuing months Allen was bothered by the hardware inside his arm.  Consultations with doctors led us to the decision to pursue a second surgery to remove the now unneeded hardware.  Allen had this surgery on May 23.

Following the surgery Allen had to keep his arm bandaged and dry for over three weeks.  Upon his return to school, his friend wrote on the bandage "Dan's Arm."  The next read "Still Dan's Arm."  The next "Still Dan's Arm - again."  The last bandage as you can see "Dan's Arm - forever."  Dan is moving to Florida in two weeks, it may be his arm, but it is staying in Belgium.

On Thursday, Allen was finally able to have his stitches removed.  This was not as bloody as the above photo makes it look.  It wasn't bloody at all - the dried blood was from the surgery three weeks prior.

Upon peeling back the surgical tape, what was visible was Allen's new scar and a piece of stiff thread used to stitch him up.  His skin looks flaky and yellow because it has not been washed since the surgery.

The scar is smaller (Allen does not appreciate this - he liked his wide bumpy and wicked looking scar).  And for the moment (I'm Allen's mom - I can say with almost certainty there will be a next time) we are done with surgery.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


When we went to the Keukenoff gardens in April, we bought a couple of amaryllis bulbs as our souvenir.  We planted them in late May and have lately been enjoyed these lovely blossoms.  

While the bulbs weren't cheap (about $10 a piece) they are definitely of high quality and we've been enjoying the flowers for close to 3 weeks now.  Certainly cheaper and longer lasting than a bouquet of cut flowers.

Since our visit to the Netherlands to see all the tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, etc, I have been pondering whether or not to purchase a bunch of bulbs for planting in our yard (in Virginia) next fall.  I think the answer is yes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cherry Pie

In the past I have noted for you the many differences between our US home and our Belgian home.  Often these differences are lacks - no garbage disposal here, no storage space, etc.

One similarity is that both yards have a cherry tree.  In the US the tree is ornamental and here it produces fruit.

The tree has been tremendously accommodating in coming into full fruit during the Reeves family visit.

Kyle invited the girls to pick some cherries.  Some cherries turned into alot of cherries and before we knew it we had several bowls.  More than eight people can easily eat.

I posted some photos on facebook of Kyra and my nieces with their cherries.  This prompted a comment that cherry pie should be made (thanks mom).

Of course the girls thought that this was an excellent idea.  I told them if they pitted enough cherries, I would make a crust.  Thus they pitted and I pulled out the cook book.

 The girls pitted four cups of cherries and cleaned up after themselves.  I rolled out pie crust dough.  My dough wasn't terribly wonderful so the double crust pie turned into a single crust with decorations on top.

The decorations were the girls' initials - Kyra, Julianna and Hannah.  Kyra added an "m" (for me) and a heart.  Hannah added a smiley face (just above the K).

 The end result was quite delicious we all enjoyed the warm pie within moments of it coming out of the oven.

It was so good that the next day additional cherries were picked, pitted and baked into a second pie which was enjoyed after Sunday evening's dinner.

I'm getting pretty good at pie crust from scratch.  So who knows what other types of pies the summer holds in store....

Thursday, June 2, 2011


First two excuses for why it has been so long.  Number one between Oklahoma, Kyle out of town and Allen's surgery I've been a bit busy.
Then when I wasn't busy it was the end of the month.  For some unknown Belgian type reason our internet connection speed slows down to a snail's pace at the end of the month.  Doing anything on the internet takes incredible patience.  I don't have incredible patience so I do only essential email during the last few days of the month.

OK on to surgery...

A year ago May Allen broke his arm in spectacular fashion.  This necessitated surgery to put his two right forearm bones back together.  After the surgery his arm gained two metal plates, thirteen screws and two scars, one wicked looking and one more tame.

Last May shortly after surgery - scar not bad yet
Fast forward to now.  Two plates and thirteen screws are no longer necessary to hold Allen's arm together and were irritating his muscles.  After consulting with three different doctors it was decided that the best course of action was to remove the hardware.  The Belgian orthopedist who did the surgery was also offended by the wicked looking scar and was determined to give Allen a cleaner looking scar.

Yes we did consider returning to the states for this operation.  We know US health care and we are still getting to know Belgian health care.  In conversations with the Belgian surgeon and Americans in the area we felt confident that we would get good care here and that the procedure was a relatively minor one.  So we went ahead with arrangement for Allen to have surgery here.

Yes I was a worried mom, who wouldn't be?  But I also observed all the little differences between our US system and what went on in the hospital here.  Here is what I noticed -

1.  In pre and post op the doctors and nurses don't wear gloves.  Yes they wash their hands but they are not constantly changing gloves.  This was good for us as Allen does have a latex allergy.

2.  Patients wait in pre-op alone.  No family, no pastor.  They just lay on their bed and wait.  Unless.. they have a pushy mom.

3.  There wasn't any initialing of the limb to be operated on.  For his first surgery, Allen marked his obviously broken arm and the surgeon signed it as well.  In this hospital I guess they figured that the pre-existing scars and common sense were a good guide.

4.  Medical info is not to be shared with the patient.  I was given a sealed envelope to take back to SHAPE for Allen's doctor/medical records.  Allen's SHAPE doctor opened it and showed it to me.  It said that Allen had had surgery to remove the hardware in his arm.  This was a secret??

All in all everything went well.  It certainly wasn't necessary to return to the US for this procedure and I would say I grow more and more confident of the medical care available here.  One note though, speaking French was necessary and if I didn't have the language facility I have, the day would not have gone as smoothly.  SHAPE does provide an English speaking liaison but only at the Mons hospital which I have not heard good things about.

Allen is doing well.  He is still bandaged.  His stitches will need to remain in for another couple of weeks so we'll see about the scar.   He is using the arm as normal without complaint.  Scar update to come eventually...