Wednesday, August 31, 2011

That's wicked!

The pictures you make, are sometimes breathtaking. You keep amazing me. Without any form of schooling, you have taught yourself how to use your camera. You like to go out and take pictures and your photographer's eye keeps getting more accurate. One of your favorite subjects: sunsets and sunrises. It's not always easy to remember which one was a sunrise and which one was a sunset, but you know and that's all that matters. Let me post some of your best shots so far..

Lake Louisa State Park, Florida - Lana Joos
Lake Louisa State Park, Florida - Lana Joos
Lake Louisa State Park, Florida - Lana Joos
Photo by Lana Joos - in the neighborhood

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy together

School will start in a couple of days. You enjoyed the time home, although you did miss your friends. Every now and then, you had a "playdate" and you always looked forward to that. Girls will be girls, I guess, and they do like to get together and have a good time.

This is you with your friends by your side. One was your roommate in boarding school, the other your classmate. Look at the three of you! How much fun can one have? That fun was tripled when you went for a sleep over. It was not the first time you made cupcakes, but making them with friends is still different. The three of you even went biking and of course... pictures were taken. That is so obvious.. at least, that's what you tell me.

Keep in touch with your friends Eva. They're worth it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Totally swept away

This song is a favorite of mine. The first time I heard it, was on a dance recital of our oldest daughter. Back then, I didn't know anything about this song and it took me many years to find out more about it. But every now and then, I would hear the song and it would still be a favorite of mine.

I have no clue what the lines are about, but the sound of the words soothe me. The tone of the voices is very comforting too. Maybe that's not the exact word to express what the music does to me, but it's a feeling I can't describe any better. Just listen for yourself and make up your mind. Sit down in your most comfortable chair and don't let anything distract you. Enjoy..

Sunday, August 28, 2011

China in your hand

I was 19. For some time, I had had my favorite bar where I would go to on Friday nights. It was just around the corner from where we lived and I would walk down there, to have a drink and a good time with friends. I didn't have that much of an allowance, so I helped out in the bar and in the kitchen. It didn't pay much either, but at least, I got free drinks for the rest of the night.

There was a variety of people in the bar. Fridays were different than Saturdays, but as I said: my night out was Friday night. I would always see the same people, quite some French people too. One year, a bunch of us agreed to go out for New Year's Eve. It was supposed to be a huge event and I really looked forward to that. I hadn't really gone out that much - even though I was already 19 - so to me: it was a big deal. One of the waiters of the bar was going to join me. I was totally excited about the whole thing.

I was driving my car the other day, and the radio played this one particular song, that brought me back in time, back to that New Year's Eve in 1990. The friend that had asked me out, invited me to dance. I normally don't dance, but that night was somehow different. I really wanted to dance with him! We danced our way to the dance floor, chit chatting and laughing and having a good time. It felt great! We really liked each other and I could discuss anything with him. We had an evening to remember.

It was not till a couple of years later, that I heard this friend had not been totally sincere with me. But then again: it all made sense. Why we could talk so well, why we liked to hang out, why I felt so safe around him. My buddy fancied boys.. not girls..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I finally opened my eyes

I got up late this morning... and immediately I wanted to go back to sleep. I'm just so tired.. The jetlag and the series of low blood glucose are getting to me. Damned.. I enjoyed that vacation so much and now all I want to do is sleep sleep sleep. Guess I'm not the only one, since the rest of the family wants to do the same. But the whippets need to go for a walk, the family needs to be fed, the clothes need to be ironed. So many needs and so little time. There's a lot of catching up to do and I feel too much pressure that I don't keep up. I would like to hibernate for a while and stay low.. hush hush..

Friday, August 26, 2011

Godforbiddenly good

While being in the States, I often watched the Food channel. That was really my cup of tea. I just love those shows on cooking and baking. It brings me in the mood to have a good time in my kitchen.

Pulled pork is something I like to prepare in my slow cooker. It's a true delight to have it on a bun, when it's covered in home made BBQ sauce. There are plenty of recipes on the Internet and you can definitely make your own version to your own taste. I like mine with some sprinkles of scallion, baked beans and red onion rings. The house smells so good when the pork is taking its time to fall apart in the slow cooker. I really have to keep myself from opening the lid every now and then to have a taste. There's too much loss of heat when you do that. I leave the pork to simmer for about 6 hours, on top of sliced carrots and onions. It gives me the time to make fresh BBQ sauce. Once the meat is done, I shred it with two forks and put it back in the slow cooker, this time covered in BBQ sauce, and I let it simmer for 2 more hours. It's so delicious.. you should try it. This is my recipe for a fabulous BBQ sauce:

what do we need:
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 orange and 1 green small pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • a couple of gherkins, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 200 ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • some sweetener to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour
what do we do:

Bring all of the ingredients in 1 pot and let it simmer until the veggies are tender.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Both whippets are so fond of dessert - which they are not allowed to have. We try to stick to their diet of wet dog food and rice in the morning and regular dog food at night. In between they get one snack. That is, a dried piece of chicken, a bone to chew on, dog biscuits, or any other kind of dog treat. Is it because of their curiosity that they are completely hypnotized when we eat dessert? They sit in front of us, their eyes wide open and focussed on one point: the treat.. That may be chocolate mousse, yogurt, pudding or even a baked apple stuffed with brown sugar and hazelnuts. They almost start to drool in their fixation. As soon as we have finished our dessert, we can hear a sigh from both whippets. The look in their eyes is sad. We have to be real strict with them: no treats that are meant for humans. Sorry girls, it's in your best interest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Take it easy

We won't do much more than chillin' today.. At least, that's what we'd like to do. This morning, we split up to go get the pets. Hubby and Eva drove all the way to Ostend, to go get Arthur and I took Lana to Holland where the dogs were staying. It's good to see they are all doing well and the household is complete again. Arthur looks very fluffy and fat. He didn't go outside for 2 weeks. The whippets though, have lost some weight. There was a bit too much fat on their bones, starting to look like labradors.. I guess we'll have to take another look at their diet.

I've had quite some low blood glucose lately. It's getting to me, I guess. I'm worn out and could use some extra sleep. Maybe I'd just crash on the couch, before I get ready to do some grocery shopping. Looking forward to a home cooked meal tonight..

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's not fall apart

It was a long flight, a very long flight..

We left for Orlando airport around 9 am. Traffic was cool and we got to the airport in time. Returning the rental car was no big deal. Checking in was a little different this time. Delta Airlines wanted us to use the Self Service check-in, meaning we had to do everything by ourselves. That's okay, if you're not in a hurry and if everything goes by the book. We were first asked to use our credit card to open the computer menu. The card was supposed to stay in the slot during the whole process. We then needed to scan all of the passports in order to be able to print the tickets. This computer we were working on, decided it didn't want to print one of the tickets. It kept spitting out blank forms for Eva. So we tried again.. and again.. until I gave up and asked an attendant to come help me. She couldn't print the tickets either and then the computer gave up as well. So she called another attendant to help out and print the one ticket we were still waiting for. We sighed when we finally got hold of all of our tickets, so we could hand over our luggage and move on to the gate.

We had lunch in the airport (The Outback Steakhouse was phenomenal) before we strolled over to Gate 73, where we had another hour and a half before our plane would start boarding. It was hot and we were thirsty and I got up to go find Starbuck's for another coffee and some soft drinks for the girls. I wanted to use my credit card to pay for the goodies. If I would have had a panic button, I probably would have pushed it right there! My Visa card was in my wallet, but I couldn't find my Master card. Think straight, think straight, was all that crossed my mind. When was the last time I had used my Master card??? I had used it to pay for the rental car, before we went to check in the luggage. Bingo! I had to use my Master card at the self service check-in. I let the process go through my memory and pushed the pause button right there: I used my Master card to print the tickets. When the computer blocked, it didn't give me back my credit card. Shoot.. Darn.. I delivered the coffee, ran over to the Delta customers service and asked for help. The lady present was very helpful. She made a couple of phonecalls and let me know that my credit card had been found. I had to go all the way back through customs to go get it. Orlando airport has a railway system to move around, so I was glad I didn't have to walk all the way back to the check-in point. I had to rush anyway, because there was like half an hour left before boarding. My heart was pounding in my body, but I got there in time. A very helpful assistant was waiting for me to hand over my credit card so I could race back to the gate. That was the intention.. until I saw the crowd waiting in line for customs.. No way I was gonna make it... The place was packed!!! I asked around and people showed me where to go to get into a priority lane. That lane had an X-ray body scan though. That's where they noticed my insulin pump. And they decided they needed to pat me down and perform drug tests on my pump and hands. Hurry up, hurry up! was all I could think of at the time! You have to keep your cool though, to make sure you don't upset security. The rest of the family was waiting for me at gate 73 and I was not prepared to take the next flight! So I put on my shoes while I was running, hopped on that train and made it in time to start boarding. What a relief..

We had a pleasant flight to Atlanta, Georgia and it didn't take long to get the connecting flight home. As I had predicted: I didn't get any sleep on the plane, and neither did the children. Hubby slept for a little while, but not enough to call it a good night. We arrived in Brussels half an hour early, despite the thunderstorms and terrible weather. Due to those weather circumstances, it took us over 45 min to get our luggage. But once we were set to go, we called a cab, picked up our car and drove home..

I hope tonight will be a better night. I hope tomorrow the sun will peep through the clouds. Life will be back to normal pretty soon..

Monday, August 22, 2011

Burst the bubble

This is it.. our vacation has come to an end.. We have a couple of more days before the girls have to go back to school, but nevertheless, the end of August will be there before we know it.

We packed last night and we were sad but happy at the same time. It's been a great vacation and we have had tons of fun. I asked the girls if they wanted to come back here and the smile on their face said it all. Eva hopes to be come back in the Spring of 2012. We'll see..

The apartment looks empty, now everything is cleaned up and packed. It won't be long before our friends will take a plane over here and spend their vacation at the resort. I'm sure they will have a great time too!

I'm not really looking forward to the flight. It's not that I don't like to fly, but once I'm ready to go home, I want to get there as fast as possible. We have a night flight this time, but I already know I won't be able to sleep. There's just not enough space and I'm not even that tall! Airplane seats are not comfortable, period. The staff does their best at serving us goodies and drinks, but there's not much more they can do, is there?

I can't wait to pick up the pets. We did miss them! We were happy our brother-in-law and his girlfriend took care of our house while we were here in Florida. It was too long for the dogs and the cat to stay at home by themselves, so we need to pick them up at their hotels. It's good to hear that they had a good time as well. Little Inthe will jump all over us and probably lick us to death, while Rebba will just crawl up in bed and sleep for days. She'll be worn out from taking care of Inthe. Arthur will look great, since he didn't have the opportunity to play outside in the backyard. His fur will be shiny and dirt free. We'll have to keep a close eye on him in the first days to come, so he doesn't wander off too far.

Grandma and grandpa can't wait to hear from us. We have called them a couple of times so they knew we were okay. They wanted to make sure the girls were not kidnapped and nothing bad had happened to them, and we could reassure them. We'll be home soon. We'll be home..

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The lady with the sign

When we were here in January, I saw her for the first time. I believe she's somewhere in her midst 40's. Just the average woman, she could be your next door neighbor. But the job she does, is a little different. Every day, we see her outside, on Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, holding up a sign. Her job is to attract the attention of the passing drivers. If you're interested in buying cheap Disney tickets: she'll tell you to stop right there... You can even pull over to sell your unused Disney tickets - I have no idea why people would have unused tickets?

She's there in the morning, she's still there at night. She's standing there, holding a huge billboard, twirling it around like it doesn't weigh anything. It looks pretty heavy to me though.. Especially if you have to do this all day, in the sun. Respect.. honestly.. I know I wouldn't do it.

I have had the intention to pull over to talk to her. To show her my respect. To ask her why she has chosen this job. I wonder.. She seems pretty fit to me. I can't imagine someone would call this a dream job? There are several other people out there, but this lady has been holding on to this job. Wow..

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In the old days..

40 at last.. Does that mean that I'm an adult now? Lol.. Does it feel any different from being 39 or 35? Not to me. Time will tell, I guess. It's not something that bothers me, age I mean. I live day by day and I take the days as they come. The only thing we can change is the day of today. So that's my motto for this year.

I like to celebrate my birthday abroad and mostly that's what we do. Not intentionally, but it works out that way pretty often. Thank you all for texting me, calling me, e-mailing me or leaving me a message on my Facebook wall. It was highly appreciated..

Around 4 PM, we took off to Old Town on W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. Back in the old days, when popcorn, Elvis and petticoats were hot. It's a little town by itself and the atmosphere is brilliant. People wander around, having their cotton candy and wearing cowboy boots and personalized belt buckles. They drive old timers and treat the ladies with respect and dignity. The girls were impressed and so was hubby. 

There were many rides to enjoy, but one in particular drew our attention. It was called the Sling Shot. Two riders take a seat and buckle up real well. You shouldn't wear sunglasses and you need to empty your pockets so you don't loose your wallet. And then the Sling Shot shoots you all the way up in the air: 111 meter high!! You make several somersaults, you hang upside down for a while and you... scream... loud... Eva wanted to give it a shot. I thought she were crazy. But then again, I remember I went bungee jumping in the first week of my au pair year in the US. Okay, I was a bit older than her, but hey: she's a brave girl! She convinced me to join her. Although my blood glucose reading was way higher than I had thought (I hate pizza for that matter), I took the challenge and off we went. It was just freaking awesome!!! What a thrill!!! Lana said her heart was nearly pounding outside her body just from watching us. And she decided to give it a go too. Eva voluntarily proposed to join her although she screamed like crazy. Lana wasn't too sure   and she was still in doubt when the thing went off and threw them up in the air.. Good grief.. I could feel the sweat in Hubby's hands.. For no money in the world would he strap himself into that Sling Shot.. 

The weather was good enough (29°C isn't bad for a summer's night huh?) to stay for the old timer's ride through   Old Town. It was splendid! It's just something you have to do while you spend time in Kissimmee. Even if you don't take much interest in cars - like me - it is a lot of fun to watch the parade. 

It was a wonderful day.. Thank you Hubby and girls, thank you my friends, for making my 40th birthday a memorable day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's too good to be true

It's still hard to believe all four of us are here, in Florida. We are so grateful that we could make this trip together and enjoy a wonderful time. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. What a strange number.. Am I supposed to feel old now? Because I really don't. I feel younger than ever and life is awesome.

Yesterday, hubby had this bright idea! He wanted to see the other coast line of Florida. In January I had been to Daytona Beach with our friends and the four of us have seen Cocoa Beach this vacation, so the Eastern coast could be checked off of our to do list. But how about the West coast?   The beaches along the Gulf of Mexico must be totally different, right?

We packed some towels and beach wear, put cold drinks in the cooler bag, grabbed some snacks and told the GPS we wanted to go to Clearwater Beach. It was a 2 hour drive, but hey, we were not in a rush or anything. Lana wanted to take a lot of pictures, so wherever she wanted us to pull over the car to stretch our legs: we did.

We thought Cocoa Beach was pretty special. Well, I can tell you: Clearwater Beach is even better... Really! You'll agree once you see the pictures! We had an awesome day, although the weather forecast wasn't with us. They predicted 50% chance of showers and T-storms. All the way down there, the weather was great. But once we reached Clearwater, it was pouring so heavily, I thought we would have to turn around and go back. None of that happened. We parked the Jeep right by the beach, hopped into our little bikinis, spread our towels and ran into the ocean. What a great feeling to be here! The water was warm and so clear! That's probably where Clearwater Beach got its name! It's no lie! You can see your own legs through the sea water. That's so awesome! We saw fish swim around us and floating on our backs, we watched the pelicans dive into the ocean to catch their lunch.

On our way to Sand Key, we made several other stops. Parks, marina's, .. so many beautiful places to visit. The Columbia Restaurant at Sand Key was a superb place to have lunch. Right by the water, Spanish atmosphere and excellent cuisine. We were sitting there, amazed by the luxury of this vacation..

Around 5 PM, we went back to the shore. Near Pier 60, there were activities and people were selling craftwork. Every day, you can hear live music on the beach and on Fridays and Saturdays, you can watch a movie on the beach, on a huge screen, sitting in the sand. Isn't that romantic???

pirate boat at sunset - Clearwater Beach
all pictures taken by Lana Joos
We waited for the sun to set, so Lana could complete her album. We had a 2 hour drive back to Caribe Cove Resort, but it was definitely worth the ride. Worn out and aching from a horrible sun burn, we got back to the apartment, to get that shower we had longed for... I'm off to bed.
Night night..

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Most working people will look forward to Fridays, so they can start the weekend. Since I don't work and hubby works weekends as well as weekdays, to us Fridays aren't that different from other days. It is different because the girls are home for the weekend then, but otherwise...

Being in Florida, we have heard the song Thank God It's Friday too many times. Being on the road, we can see the fast food chain T.G.I.F. every 5 min or so... We haven't been there because after all: fastfood will always be fastfood, right? I mean: how different can burgers and fries be? We have been to MacDonald's (just for convenience on our first night here) and to Johnny Rockets (at least they have real burgers - more for the interior and the atmosphere than for the fastfood) and that's plenty. I'm not that much of a fastfood person I guess. I do prefer home cooked meals and more healthy meals. My stomach isn't impressed when I have burgers and fries or other fried products.

I long for vegetables and fresh fruit. Thank God (I wouldn't know who else to thank?) for Europe. I'm glad Europe is still a little behind when it comes to food and going out to eat. I would absolutely not want to live in a culture where hamburgers and fries or pizza are that common. Pizza is great as a treat every once in a while, but shouldn't be on my daily menu. I don't know how you guys and gals feel about that? Could you eat this kind of food every day? I know some of you could be I can't... sorry...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Plunge in

We had a hard time figuring out which park we were going to visit, while being here in Florida. There are so many theme parks and several water parks, that we didn't know where to begin. The girls wanted roller coasters, but also a movie theme park and then again they also wanted to have fun in a water park.. We overlooked all of the parks on the Internet. Distance wasn't a problem, since all the parks are only half an hour from the Caribe Cove Resort where we're staying at. But we had to make up our minds and we decided Aquatica was the park we wanted to go to. And we had a blast!!!

There are several fantastic rides in the park. We particularly liked the Tassie's Twisters, Omaka Rocka, HooRoo Run and Walhalla Wave and Whanau Way and... I guess we liked them all!!!

After 4 PM, a voice announced that we were to get off the rides, because a serious thunderstorm was on its way. They didn't want to take any chances and everybody needed to seek shelter. So we did... Unfortunately, the sun didn't really come back to Aquatica... Even a temperature of 26°C was too cold to remain in the park. But hey: we did all the rides and we were satisfied, so no tears! It was another great day and we had tons of fun!

I was so happy with my Quiksilver waterproof pocket. It kept my insulin pump dry and safe throughout the water rides so I didn't have to miss out on the fun. The people at the first aid station were very helpful and they kept my glucose meter, strips and lancing device within reach, so every now and then I could go over there to have my blood glucose checked and/or corrected. It was good to know I didn't have to worry about my diabetes or my insulin pump getting wet or lost.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Florida is known as Gatorland, since the alligator  is so popular around here. You see them all over the place: lakes, rivers, swamps,.. you just can't miss them. There are some in the lake around the Caribe Cove Resort as well! Lana has spotted them from the pool!

Today we decided to go on an adventure and buy a ticket for an airboat ride. Since the apartment is located so near to everything (you can get like anywhere within an hour drive), we didn't hesitate to hop into the car and drive all the way up to Boggy Creek at Lake Toho. The website sounded promising and we were not disappointed!

On the way over there, we pulled over the car, to see a dozen of black vultures having dinner.. Their pray was laying in the ditch and all vultures were taking turns pulling of pieces of flesh. It was so weird and surreal to watch this! We were impressed and totally excited!

It was a beautiful wildlife tour through the wetlands of Florida. We first had a leisure idle down a natural canal  to watch the exotic birds (I truly enjoy the white and grey herons around here - they are so gracious when they descend), turtles and alligators in their own natural environment. We got headphones and trust me: you need them...  Once the captain speeds up, you fly like the wind into the swamp experiencing the awesome feel of the airboat ride.  We didn't choose to go down to the Southern Everglades as most people would do, but the Central Florida Everglades were pretty nice! Another wonderful day..

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sound of Silence

To be honest: it was awesome.. It was breathtaking. It was phenomenal..

We had been looking into visiting a State Park in the Kissimmee area. Lana wanted to take pictures and train her photographic skills. She's particularly fond of making nice sunset shots.
caterpillar on flower
In the afternoon, we headed towards Clermont, Florida, a half hour ride from the apartment. I had googled the Lake Louise State Park and it sounded promising.  At the cost of only 5 dollars, we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening in the park. It was like we had entered a completely different world. This is the real Florida. This is so different from Disney and the parks, although they have a charm of their own.

A gopher tortoise - the state turtle of both Georgia and Florida - tried to cross the road while we just entered the park. Okay, that was worth a first snapshot. We knew not all wildlife would be that slow..
We stopped at three lakes: Dixie Lake, Hammond Lake and Lake Louisa. At the first stop, we saw this prehistorical looking alligator in the lake. It was really creepy! We intended to rent canoes but we kinda chickened out after we realized there were actually real gators in the lake. What if our canoe tipped over and we fell in? Or what if an alligator came up to our canoe? Would we have to hit it with our paddle? I'm not scared that easily, but I wasn't sure about this idea anymore..

gopher tortoise

alligator in Dixie Lake

There was another alligator prepared to pose for the camera, in Hammond Lake. It was just so surreal but then again it was more real than the rest of Florida we have seen so far. The lake was full of beautiful waterlilies and numerous fish.

We decided to follow the signs so the next stop was a hiking trail. We thought it was going to be a brisk walk through the woods, but in the end, we must have walked for over an hour. Supposedly there were bobcats, rattlesnakes, wild turkey, raccoons, opossums and squirrels around, but we didn't see any - except for a troop of turkeys and 1 squirrel. The walk took a bit longer than expected and my pace was slowing down. Stupid me.. I had not taken my purse.. meaning no glucose meter nor dextrose within reach. I didn't want to hold up the rest, so I kept going and I couldn't do much more than hope we would reach the end of the trail pretty soon. We had followed the blue track, but all at once, there were no more blue signs to follow. We only saw red signs, so we changed tracks. My blood sugar kept dropping and I knew I had to get out of these woods somehow. After at least another 20 min we arrived at the parking lot, where I tested and corrected that 42 mg/dl with half a tin of lukewarm ginger ale and about 8 animal crackers. Man, that felt so good..

hiking trail in the woods to Lake Louisa
mating butterflies

Those are moments I truly despise diabetes. You always have to consider what you bring and how long you will be gone. I know that, but see: every now and then, the excitement wins from the brain and that's when you get in trouble. I'm glad I didn't pass out.. There was nobody to be seen in that forest and we had left the cell phones in the car. We did not even have a clue where we were.. I'm glad that hypoglycaemia got fixed in an instant, because we were ready to visit the third and biggest lake: Lake Louisa. That was too much... so serene, so pure, so untouched.  Lana was over the moon. She said it was her best day in Florida.  And yes: she made extraordinary pictures. We even came back later that night to watch the sunset. We were all quiet... for once, the radio was not turned on while driving back to the apartment. I believe we were all moved by the beauty of this scenery..

Eva and Lana in Lake Louisa

sunset Lake Dixie

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer has finally come

For the first time this year, we have no use bringing jackets and sweaters when we go out. We slip into skirts and tank tops and sandals can show off our brightly colored toe nails. We have already emptied one bottle of sunscreen in not even one week time. Wow. Although it's a little too hot, we're not complaining. There's air conditioning in all shops - and in the Jeep, don't forget - so we try to keep in the shops as much as possible. Maybe that's the trick!!! Maybe the AC is meant to make people come in to the shops and spend some money? We have definitely seen quite some shops.. Winter Garden Village, Mall at Millenia, Florida Mall, Premium Outlet Stores,.. There's one more to go now: The Loop. Hubby is coping real well, surrounded by his crazy women. I just had this weird idea today: what if he would have had 2 sons instead of 2 girls? Would we have done different things then? Adventure parks or go-karting instead of shopping? Would we have watched something different than cheesy romantic movies at night? Probably. But he said he doesn't mind. He likes his girls..

I'm getting used to driving this Jeep. It's an automat, like most cars over here. It's a joy to drive it and I love driving over here. The streets are avenues! I like the rule that cars may take a right even when the light is a red no-go. It makes traffic a whole lot easier going.

The apartment is air-conditioned too. It feels so good to be here. Although we do miss our pets, we would have no problem staying here for another week. We do have one week to go, but we were already talking about coming back for an even longer vacation. That's how fun it is.. No stress, no rush, just fun, relaxation and family time..

all pictures are taken by Lana Joos

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let's have a good time!

We looked it up on the Internet. Cocoa Beach would be like a 1 hour and a half drive. Last time I was here, we went to Daytona Beach and this time we wanted to explore the other coast line. The girls were all excited about going to the beach to get a tan. We had had quite some rain and we were really looking forward to some better weather. We should've known August is the month of thunderstorms in Florida, but we thought it would be more like 5 min rain showers... Anyway: the weather looked good so we packed up the car and drove down to Cocoa Beach. The temperature had risen to 38°C so a dive in the ocean sounded promising.

The beach was pretty empty. School started this week so there weren't many local kids. The shore was so clean and shell free, it was a true joy to find some refreshment in the water. It was kinda cold at first, but then again: we are not pussies! So we jumped up and down to keep our heads above the waves - no that didn't always work - and it felt real good! I do know now that insulin pumps should be taken off before you go swimming...
Did you know that the ocean over here is crowded with pelicans, diving for fresh fish? That was so awesome to watch! They are so fast and too smart!

We grabbed some lunch on the beach at the local Beach Shack: fresh sesame tuna and some corn chips with mango salsa for me, steak and cheese sandwich for the girls and grilled chicken chipotle for hubby. We're still not used to the free refills.. it's just too much. You're not done drinking your soda when they already bring you a free new drink. American people drink a whole lot more than we do. I think I'll stick to water from now on, since my tummy is bloated with soda..

I'm so glad Lana and Eva are taking loads of pictures. They are so good at it and the pictures will be a great souvenir to bring home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Very much so

Girls... Anyone who has daughters will understand what I'm talking about. They love to shop! It was a bit difficult to make a choice, but the first mall we visited, was The Mall at Millenia. Eva had set her eyes on several shops: Abercombie & Fitch, Hollister, Juicy Couture, XXI Forever,.. She had looked up the mall on the internet a couple of weeks ago. She was totally excited about this shopping event. She got her own budget to buy treats and clothes and so did her sister. Although they are sisters and they have the same size now, they don't exchange clothes. Because they have a completely different taste. Lana is more of the flower power girl while one could describe Eva's style as preppy. It is interesting to see the interaction between both girls - or young ladies if you wish.

There are so many more malls they want to visit: Orlando Mall, Florida Mall, Premium Outlet Stores,.. We're having some pretty hectic days in front of us..

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tall buildings and narrow streets

That's absolutely not what Kissimmee looks like. We are used to going to Tunis, Turkey, Egypt or Morocco and that's where you will find old tall buildings and dark narrow streets. Those are the places where you stroll around and where young children try to sell you souvenirs or freshly picked flowers.

Kissimmee is a bit bigger I must say. It's full of life, but not as brightly colored as Morocco or Egypt. It's totally different and in fact it can't be compared. For instance, the language is so easy. Finally a country where we can make ourselves understood. Here in Florida, we have the warmth we enjoy when we go to Northern Africa. We are used to staying in all inclusive 5* hotels and this time we wanted something different. The girls have grown bigger and we are no longer forced to stay in a hotel where the food comes in buffet form. Because that was easy for the kids: they get to pick whatever they like and as much as they like. Here in Florida, there's an abundance of food to choose from and the products they use look familiar to ours. This time the girls won't have to ask what's on the menu. Their eyes will tell.

We have prepared this holiday for a couple of months now, and there are a few things we would really like to do. We still haven't made up our mind on what Disney Park we would like to visit. We'll see. We can do whatever we want and we will come and go whenever we feel like it.

Kissimmee feels like coming home.. I'm glad to be back here..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let's take a plane

Planes are fast, planes are an easy way to travel. Sometimes it's the only way to get to your destination.
We planned our trip months ago. The plan was to fly to Atlanta and then take a connecting flight to Orlando. Our first plane had a one hour delay and we were not looking forward to missing our next flight. There was only 1 hour 40 minutes between both flights and landing in Atlanta means all passengers with connecting flights need to pick up their luggage and check them in again. We were fortunate that the Delta Airlines staff gave us an orange card, meaning we didn't have to wait in line. Nevertheless, half an hour was not enough to catch a plane. We ran and rushed and did the best we could. Our hearts were pounding in our bodies.
The last stop was the security check. Again, we had to unpack our backpacks and put all electronic devices in special bins. There was a lady in front of me, all dressed in a special uniform. Lana thought she had joined a jamboree meeting abroad. It took some time for her to get patted down by the security staff. We grabbed our belongings and continued the rush to the next gate. We were so lucky to get there in time! We had made it! Too bad the connecting flight wasn't ready for take off. Due to thunderstorms, the airplane was not allowed to leave the airport. There was a 2 hour delay..

We picked up our rental car - we got a way too expensive Jeep SUV instead of the car we had ordered - and drove to the resort in Kissimmee. We unpacked the luggage and I unpacked my bags to get my notebook. I had promised some people to let them know we were fine.

I opened my notebook and to my surprise, my desktop was different. There was also a sticker with some phonenumber on the screen. You have got to be kidding!!! This was not my notebook!!! I was lucky that the owner had not logged out. So I opened his Facebook and asked him to contact me. He did pretty fast, leaving me a message on my facebook wall. Apparently, I had not logged out either.. He and his mom had come back from Sweden, where they had attended a.. Jamboree meeting.. I remembered the lady in Atlanta right away. So that's where the owners left for different destinations in the possession of the wrong laptops..

We'll sort things out. We have been in touch and in some days time, he will have his notebook back and I'll be typing on my own device. Thank you Facebook! Thank you stranger!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

She wants her daddy

I know she's a D.O.G. but nevertheless, we are her mommy and daddy. She doesn't know any better. Inthe is a real drama queen when she misses her daddy. She then sits on the couch, her head all stretched out towards the window. Every now and then, I can hear her sigh. Her eyes are all droopy and she's looking depressed. I then ask her: do you want your daddy to come home? She holds her head to one side and points her ears. Like to make sure she heard me alright. So I ask her again and Inthe holds her head to the other side. That's the signal I have to look out for. Because that's the moment she will race towards me, lick me in the face and put her paws on my shoulders to give me a hug. She really misses him when he's at work. She looks forward to his home coming. And then: joy oh joy. Her memory is so short, she must actually believe he was gone for at least a week. She's a bit silly, you know. But I must admit: it's cute.

Monday, August 8, 2011

At night, when the sleep won't come

I didn't sleep much. We're about to board by now. Florida is waiting for us, to come and enjoy a wonderful vacation. Kissimmee is the destination. I was there in January, with our friends. We're going back as a family now. It'll be great to finally enjoy the sun, since this summer has not been very promising.

It might take us some time to settle in and get connected with you all. So don't panic yet. Just relax. I know we will too.. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are going to look after our house. The pets have left for their hotels this weekend and the girls are right by our side. Let's go for it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The rescue rangers

It's no secret that cats and dogs will not be best friends by choice. The situation here isn't any different. Although the dogs don't mind our tomcat Arthur strolling around the house, Arthur isn't too fond of the whippets. He bears their presence, but they can't expect anything more. He likes to tease them and in his mind he's the king of this jungle.

It's interesting to witness the interaction between the dogs and the cat. Whenever Arthur is sitting on the deck, waiting to come inside, Inthe is there to let us know. She cries and asks us to let Arthur in. Like Rebba licks Inthe dry after a walk in the rain, Inthe tries to dry off Arthur too. That's too much for this tomcat. His pride won't let him give in to this kind of luxurious treatment. So he sticks his tail right up in the air and paces to the bathroom for a bite.

Arthur's bed is right behind the couch where both whippets like to hang out on. I overheard Arthur making these funny throat noises, like he was not feeling well. Inthe panicked and raced over to him, like she planned on asking him what was wrong. She then gave me that desperate look: HELP HIM! I could tell how worried Inthe was. There was no need to, because Arthur does this every now and then and he's absolutely fine. But Inthe wouldn't rest until I came to see what was wrong. She stood right by his side to make sure I would help.

Some people say pets don't have feelings nor a brain. I think they are wrong. If only people would take the time to see the interaction between pets and their owners, they would know better.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Killing calves

My husband claims my killing calves drew his attention when he first met me. He thought I was a sports fanatic and that maybe I loved to go biking. Because that's what my calves told him..

That is so funny, since I'm not sporty at all. Maybe my calves are a result of walking on high heels for over 20 years? I don't know. I surely don't do anything - except for shaving them silky smooth and treating them with body lotion - to make them look appealing. Although my legs are a bit short (I'm not tall either), I do like my legs so yes, you will often see me wear dresses or skirts. The time hasn't been that good this year, so my legs still need to get a tan, but I'm sure the Florida sun will solve that issue.

Sorry hun, you'll have to ride that bike all by yourself. Or invite our sister-in-law, she's looking for a partner to ride bikes together!

Friday, August 5, 2011

I forgot to breathe..

This series of pictures is my favorite. Honestly, I don't know where your friend got the inspiration, but she surely did a great job! Look at the strength of the picture, come on! The little hairs in the back of my neck stood up. I would really like to have them all printed and framed. It's an extraordinary collection Lana. I'm so proud of you!

Photo taken by Helen Almey

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I save the day

It must have been 1985. I was in High School at the time. Roberto Jacketti and the Scooters was a Dutch group and they were popular back then, trust me. I had this brilliant idea to contact the group and ask them to come play their music in our school. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell my friends about it!

It didn't take long before the group wrote me back (no email in those days!). They agreed to come to Ieper and perform in our school: for free! Ha! Really, come on! Who would do that??? I asked some friends to help me organize this great event and contacted the principal. He thought it were a very good plan to let them come perform in the last week of that school year.

Too bad I never heard them sing.. For some reason (don't ask me what reason - I don't even know the reason), my mother told me I was not going. I was devastated and nobody understood. Both the class teacher and the principal called my mother to persuade her to change her mind. But that's not the kind of person she is. She had made up her mind that I wouldn't have a wonderful afternoon with my friends.. She didn't save the day. I never forgot.

I save the day...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm totally zen

What's the perfect way to give yourself total relaxation?
A massage?
A long walk along a pristine beach? Classical music or a romantic movie?

I'm not very good at relaxing. Some years ago, I signed up for a number of relaxation classes. The silence in the room freaked me out in advance. I wanted to hear some music instead of that deadly silence. But that was not going to happen. I heard nothing but my own breath and that could not give me any relaxation.

Comfort food makes me zen. Honestly.. Having spent time near my stove before I sink down in a chair to enjoy that one perfect meal. Total relaxation! I keep some recipes handy for these moments. How about a comforting apple crumble?

what do we need:
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 50 grams of real butter
  • 50 grams of sugar
  • 80 grams of plain flour
  • 80 grams of cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 80 grams of demerara sugar
what do we do:
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Heat a pan on the stove. Melt the butter and bake the apple slices until nearly done.
  • Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and let it simmer for a while, until the apples caramelize.
  • Fill 4 ovenproof bowls with the apple slices and press well.
  • Mix the flour with the butter and the sugar until you get fine crumbs that look like sand.
  • Divide the crumble over the 4 bowls and make sure all of the fruit is covered with crumble.
  • Bake the apple crumble for 25 min or until golden.
  • Serve plain, with vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.
  • Dive in!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A road untraveled

Photo by Eva Joos
Not even a full month difference in age, these two beautiful young girls should be growing up in similar circumstances. They are young, pretty, intelligent and articulate. They have friends, they socialize, they like boys, music and movies. There's one big difference: one has diabetes, the other doesn't..

It doesn't show that one girl has diabetes. There's no warning sign around her neck or anything. If you don't know, you wouldn't tell. But it's there. It won't go away either, since it's a chronic disease.

I got to meet this one girl and her mom this year. It breaks my heart to know that this girl - that is so similar to our 16 yo daughter - was given this stupid disease. She didn't do anything wrong. It wasn't her fault nor the fault of her family. Just like that, her pancreas decided it no longer wanted to produce insulin. Our daughter has a pancreas that is doing just fine. I'm happy for her. It's no joy to have diabetes, especially not if you're 16. You just wanna fit in and be like all the other 16 year olds. You don't want to have any "condition" or be "unique in some way".

She's doing great, despite the diabetes. She's a responsible young lady. Due to her medical condition, she has to be very aware of what she eats, whether she works out or not, what time she goes to bed and what time she wakes up. Her life will no longer be like it was before she was diagnosed. I'm proud of her though. I'm proud of the way she copes and how she keeps going. Of course, every now and then she hates the insulin pens and she curses the diabetes. Her tears won't make D go away, but they will relieve the hurt.

Both our daughters have met this girl and her mom. I'm glad they have. Our girls take their health for granted. Not all children have that same good health. Some kids struggle. But then again: they persevere and they take good care of themselves and despite their deficiency they have a bright future ahead of them. Because they are brave and they don't give up.

Sixteen year old girls are supposed to have fun in life and shouldn't have to worry about anything. They shouldn't take their health for granted. We only have one body and we should take good care of it. Honor that body and don't ruin it. Be grateful for your health. It's a gift.

Monday, August 1, 2011

You think?

There is not one single day without me getting on that scale. I'm getting better at it though. I used to step on the scale several times a day: when I got right out of bed, after I went to the bathroom, after breakfast, when I finished showering..

Why is that number on the scale so important to us, women? Is it the pressure from society? Is it a lack of self-esteem? Is it health issue related?

Maybe we should just trash that scale. Seriously. It might do us good and we might get rid of the frustration the scale brings us too often.

I really like the idea of this scale. If only it would exist, I would treat myself on a similar balance. It's so much nicer to us than the ones we're used to.
I hear skinny women do the balance gimmick too. You know: weighing themselves several times a day. Some because they think they're not thin enough yet. Others because they are dying to gain some weight and it won't stick to their bones.  It seems we think in numbers at all times. Maybe we should just be happy with who we are and what we look like, to a certain extend. Only if your (mental) health is at stake, one should consider dieting. I hear about these young girls - some as young as 9 - that start cutting back on the cals. That's very troublesome.. Young girls shouldn't have to worry about their weight or appearance. If they start dieting at such a young age, their metabolism gets disturbed heavily. It's a never ending story.. You really don't want your daughters to go through such an ordeal.

I think I'm gonna promise myself not to get on that scale on a daily basis. How about no more than 2 times a week?