Gotta Hand It To Antwerpen: Belgium and Back (Part Deux)

Elle in Antwerpen

I know. I’m so punny.

I planned on writing this second part far earlier than this, but it’s a crazy month with at least twelve family birthdays, my husband’s and mine included. Among other things. Like starting the Leap Year off with a tornado.

Now lets take the DeLorean for a spin back to November. A surprisingly calming time, despite the chaos of a trip across the ocean, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday shopping all in one week. (Yes, I am one of those insane people that waited in line for hours for a three dollar waffle maker. Actually, it was a ten dollar Crock Pot.)

Back to Belgium –

We went to the city a couple of times for we left. Where did I really want to go? The Aquarium.

Why? Because my husband is amazing (sometimes- don’t want him to get a bigger head than he already has), and he fulfills those childhood memories that I never got around to making. I’ve also never been to the zoo, but he’s saving the London Zoo for my first time. 

He also took me on my first train ride. It wasn’t the Orient Express, but it was still a train ride. I live ten minutes from an actual train station, and I have for about fifteen years. Despite that little detail, I didn’t go on a train until I went to London in 2010. I know, I’m super lame in the face. I do things like hang out backstage to see Sum 41, hang out with Gallagher at the Landing, and I like to hang out with magicians…these are not very impressive details to a general audience. It’s okay. I’m aware of my own lamedom. You have to own who you are.

Yes, it’s right next to China Town. >_<

Okay, so that’s not the best photo from Aquatopia, but it’s my favorite. I could make a whole blog dedicated to the aquarium Let me just say that it’s a great place to visit. You can bring your kids or your dog. Or your ball and chain… You’ll have fun. Get some great photos and make some memories. I definitely say check it out if you’re there.

Now, some things were planned activities, aside from ones having to do with jQuery-  (Again, if someone linked to this blog because of my husband, I apologize. No, I know nothing about JavaScript or jQuery, and I don’t speak binary. I’ll tell you Al Gore invented the internet just to jerk your chain. I’m a writer of things that don’t really matter to most people, and I’m completely content with that.)

Such activities did not include being in a protest. After grabbing some amazing deals at some sales, we walk out to see a group of hippies and semi regular looking people marching and chanting in Dutch. I know enough about human nature to know it was definitely a protest. So, we joined in to see where they were going with it. They were playing instruments made of sticks, balloons, and a homemade looking drum. Being that we got to Antwerp during a Dutch holiday weekend, Addy was convinced that it was a parade or some sort of festivity.

…but I thought Belgium didn’t have a government? Who are they protesting to?

I know, I’m usually right. Girls usually are. To the ladies, boys will never learn. To the gentlemen, you’re in a constant state of denial…but it’s okay. I’m accepting of this. It’s like how women are completely insane. I’m aware of this in a million different ways, but I can’t change it. That’s like me trying to be black. There’s no reverse Michael Jackson for that. In a lot of ways, you can’t change yourself, even if you want to. We are who we are. Own it.

Now, back to this trip, before this becomes the most annoyingly long of my posts by far…

One thing I really enjoyed were the creative window displays.

My favorite?

What’s up, Bra?

Yes, it’s a dress made from braziers in a lingerie shop window. My husband liked the metallic Marge Simpson in the window of the hair salon, but it’s my blog, not his, and my next picture will redeem me in his eyes.

Belgian street art…

Street Art

Okay, now I look like a lameface. Why? I know nothing of European comics. I grew up to Family Circus, Garfield, and the Peanuts in the Sunday funnies. I grew up with Inspector Gadget and even Matthew Broderick couldn’t make that worth watching. I do know that he’s beloved in Europe as Blue’s Clues is to North America.-

I don’t care if I saw Steve Burns in real life, I’d make him sing We Just Got A Letter.

At any rate, my husband thought that this cartoon was TinTin and begged me to take a photo of it with my camera. Turns out someone corrected me, which I welcome. My husband will object, saying I need to be right, but honestly, I don’t mind being wrong. It just so happens that in his case, I’m usually right. ;-D

Right…

Where was I?

At this point, I wonder if it’s not worth posting just a bunch of random photos or a slideshow. It’s getting late, and I have an early, big day tomorrow.

WWHSTD?

What Would Hunter S. Thompson Do?

Probably drop some acid, huff some ether, and stay up all night. Also, write something far more entertaining than this that would contain at least one hallucination. Unfortunately, that’s not even in the realm of possibilities for me.

Brothas.

I could’ve posted a couple of pictures of the beautiful architecture, art, music, or any girl’s best friend…the diamond district, but that wouldn’t be me. That would make sense.

I do know that if you’re American, you won’t starve. There’s a pizza place on every corner, Europe is not without Aldi grocery stores, and I even got to eat at a Chili’s. Fajitas and cherry bubbly alcoholic drinks  for the win! The people are lovely. The place is lovely. I definitely wouldn’t mind going back, but I really have my heart set on the Canary Islands for my next vacation.

Love and Fajitas,

L

xoxo

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To Belgium and Back (Part 1)

L and O

This past long over-due winter break I went to Antwerp, Belgium with my husband, who was speaking at Devoxx and attending the jQuery summit online. No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in any other life, I probably wouldn’t either.

The point is Elle hit Europe, but were they ready?

We actually stayed in Ekeren, we went into the city for Devoxx, sightseeing and shopping. I decided to break the first part of this blog into Ekeren photos, because there are far too many pictures and things to blog about as it is.

My favorite place to eat.

Now some might judge them for how they spelled Chinese, but not me. Those girls spoke Chinese, French, Dutch, and English. Amazing. You go to a Chinese restaurant in Branson, and they act like they don’t speak Chinese or English. I love the tolerance of other people. They say that Europeans hate Americans. Maybe the Brits, I find that to be a tiny bit true. However, you have no idea how many Dutch conversations a sweet smile and a polite, “I’m sorry, I’m American” got me out of with a small chuckle an apology. It’s almost like when I get a flat, and I call roadside assistance. “I’m sorry, I’m a girl,” it works every time.

Preggers Belgian Barbie

Sounds crazy, and I’m more than a little crazy, but this was one of my favorite finds of the trip. Just sitting on the shelf with all the other Barbie and Justin Bieber dolls, Knocked Up Belgian Barbie, and she even gives birth to a tiny baby. Totally creepy? Maybe, but highly hilarious. Two thumbs up.

No Doggy Doo

Is this vulgar? Possibly, but it also had me rolling. It was probably the beers I’d had before that, but seeing this sign gave me a serious case of the LOLs. I found it on the side of a building in a seemingly sketch part of town.

Leopold II, King of the Belgians

In my neck of Ekeren, I didn’t find many actual sights per say, but I did find this lovely church and statue of Leopold II. Not the greatest guy if you lived in the Congo in the late 1800s, but the Belgians liked him well enough, I suppose.

That concludes my pictures of Markt Ekeren. I was only there a little over a week, so I didn’t do the greatest amount of exploring, and as my husband reminded me, it was a business semi vacation sort of trip. On the bright side, I finally got to finish 1984 by George Orwell, and it was just as brilliant as I imagined it to be. Not much more I could say about Ekeren. My husband would scold me for not mentioning Jump-Inn, his favorite restaurant, but as I said, it was his favorite, and this is my blog.

*insert silly winky face*

Until next time…

Love and Leopold,

L

xoxo


Extreme Makeover: Joplin Edition

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this summer, I’m sure that you heard of the F5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22nd. The tornado killed over a hundred and sixty people and devastated businesses, the St. John’s hospital, and at least one elementary school, that I know of. It was the seventh single most deadly tornado in U.S. history. Leaving thousands without homes and jobs, not to mention the broken hearts over lost loved ones.

Elementary School Across From The Extreme Makeover site

Amongst the rubble of devastation, Extreme Makeover crews came to bring a glimmer of hope. The well known television program took on its biggest task to date. Building 7 houses in eight seven days. Among the families that were to receive new homes where two best friends and neighbors both named Crystal, and in a cruel twist of fate and commonality, both lost children. Crystal Cogdill, ironically worked before the tornado, finding housing for others. Crystal Whitely worked giving personal care to the disabled and elderly, but above all else, she was a loving mother of three.

When they heard the tornado sirens, both followed their emergency plans and grabbed their kids, huddling into their bathtubs. Tragically, the storm overpowered them both. Cogdill lost her nine year old son, later finding his body under a utility pole, and Whitely lost her two older children, only being able to cling to her four year old daughter. Thanks to Extreme Makeover, they will once again be neighbors, and although, no one can bring back their children, they connected their homes with a “Healing Garden” in which they can remember their children in beauty and not tragedy. These two stories touched my heart more than any others. Perhaps, because of all the participants, they were the only families to lose a loved one , but also, because I too am a mother, and I cannot imagine a worser fate than losing one of my children.

The New Whitely House and to the Right the Healing Garden

Where do I fit in here? My part was small to say the least. I never lifted a hammer or a paint brush. I never got to hug these mothers and lend them my strength. I never even got to shake Ty Pennington’s hand. So, what did I do? I did what I could…I catered. I’m only serve safe. In fact, if I’d worry more about their safety if I had built something. I overheard my boss talking about volunteering to cater to the crews that worked all week to build these new homes, and I immediately wanted to help. Not knowing for who or when, but just that I had to do something. Donating my money, clothes, food, and diapers…those seemed like little things. It may sound preverse, but I also wanted to see the destruction first hand. Trust me, it was not a pretty sight, and it would weigh heavy on anyone’s heart. The saying is true. If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.

Still, even after seeing it and hearing countless stories…I don’t think that I fully understand the heartache brought on by this act of nature. It was senseless to say the least, but blameless as well. Sure, many could blame God, but that’s like blaming God for the Nazis or the hole in the ozone layer. What good would it do?

Habitat for Humanity, which won’t have a nationally televised show to pronounce their good deeds has taken Extreme Makeovers efforts to the next level. While I am across the ocean on vacation, which seems frivolous to even announce, thousands of volunteers will be building ten houses in sixteen days with no more than a thank you for their efforts.

I know that I didn’t have a big hand in it, or any at all, just mostly to pass the story on through my blergh. It’s something I had to say before I started posting smiling pictures of my vacation. It’s a story that I couldn’t go without sharing.

Love and Hope,

L

xoxo.


Derby Daze

Confession Time:

I can’t rollerskate.

Not for lack of trying on my part, and it’s not like I didn’t have plenty of opportunity. Two of my little brothers and I (all three of us having birthdays in March) had skating parties thrown by our mother for four, maybe five different years. There are probably dozens of photos in undeveloped film (thank, God) of us falling and busting our butts.

Despite my lack of coordination on rollerskates, I have always wanted to be in the roller derby. The movie Whip It only increased my desire to kick some ass while wheeling around. (I’ll probably have to wait til I’m in a nursing home and riding in an electric wheelchair.) However, one of my dear friends and co-workers told me that she was considering joining the roller derby. I told her that she had to do it, so that I could live vicariously through her.

So, my gbff, DJ, and I headed to Springfield for the last meet of the year ,which happened to be for Halloween. Hit or Treat. It was pretty awesome. Not sure if it was the beers we had at Red Robin (yumm) beforehand, or the fact that a girl on the opposing team fell and broke her ankle, but we had loads of fun.

My Girl Leading The Pack.

 

I just thought that I’d share. There will be more blogs this week than usual, because I’ve had a lot going on. I mean, this one is delayed from Halloween, and this is my busy time of year…

So , QOTN, what dream have you always had but never fulfilled? Mine would be the roller derby…and being President, but I think the likelihood of me being President is probably greater.

Love and Rollerskates,

L

xoxo

 


American Idols Lost and Found

Two of my favorite Idols were Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens. (Not to mention Anoop Desai, but that’s a different crazed fan post)

Occasionally I like to stalk them on youtube and see what they’re up to. I subscribe to Andrew Garcia, and if you love covers like I do, you should check him out. If you’re not in the mood for music, and you’re more in the mood for funny, then I say you must watch Shane Dawson or the epitome of nerdom The Guild. These two channels are an acquired tastes. Like sardines or brussels sprouts. I think both are delicious, but together? I don’t know…that could be AWESOMESAUCE!

Or not.

I’ll get back to you on that one.

At any rate, when people leave American Idol you have to wonder what they’re up to, where did they go? Ect, ect. I mean, if they leave Big Brother obviously they’re going to have their own drug ring and if they’ve just been voted off the island, then they become a Survivor in the real world by not paying their taxes.

If you live in the Midwest and were voted off American Idol, then you end up in a Branson show or at a singing diner.

However, if they are persistent, sometimes these ex-Idols make it, even if it’s only on youtube.

Without further ado,

Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens covering Skyscraper.

Awh.

That was super spesh.

So, QOTN, which I most often ask myself, since the rest of the world is silent…

What reality show do you think you could survive?

I’d love to be on Big Brother. It’s the one thing that I could do. Mostly because I hate camping, I can’t sing or dance very well, and I can’t cook, and although racing around the world would be fun, the first time I had to eat something gross or jump out of a plane, I’d be outtie.

Love and Brussels Sprouts,

L

xoxo