Saturday, February 17, 2007


Friday afternoon was GORGEOUS weather, up in the high fifties, sunny, not too breezy, so we headed out for a stroll, all four of us. MeiMei had complained that her shoes were too tight, so she and I went to Torfs shoe store near the Super GB grocery store on the Groenplaats and she picked out the most adorable sneakers I've ever seen - baby blue Chuck Taylor All-Stars decorated all over with butterflies and flowers, with pink laces. Love 'em!

We caught up with JieJie and John on the Groenplaats. Since it was not only a beautiful Friday afternoon but the day before a week-long holiday here, the plaza was filled with people enjoying a drink and snack at the outdoor restaurants.

It was so nice out, we figured we'd try taking the tram under the river to the other side to see what was there. We got off at the very first stop after the tunnel, as we'd heard that there was a nice park area overlooking the Antwerp skyline. Indeed there was! At last, big expanses of green grass and loads of fun playground equipment. It's so easy to get to from here, I'm sure we'll be very familiar with it before we head out of town in April.
The girls yelled Yippee! and ran ahead to explore. In no time they were crawling, sliding, see-sawing and JieJie even made a friend, a little boy about her age. It's out of character for her to be so outgoing, but maybe her experience at the new school has changed her a bit in that regard. John and I turned around to see her see-sawing with this curly-haired adorable boy, both of them laughing and shouting.

Poor MeiMei...this is really the first time I've seen her get thrown over for a peer, and she was pretty heartbroken to lose her best friend, even for a few minutes. I helped her climb around on things until her big sister came back for her.
They wanted to see what else was in the big park, so we walked along the riverside path with its spectacular view of the downtown until we came to an open-air nautical museum featuring various anchors, buoys, bells, that kind of thing. Little tiny flowers were blooming and the girls picked a whole bunch for me.
My mom-spidey sense was just beginning to tell me that I should scout out a bathroom should the need arise, when all of a sudden MeiMei said "oh no! I need to go potty!" and I looked over to see the inseams of her pink pants turning darker as she wet herself and her brand new Chuck Taylors, which are now drying in the windowsill after a tumble in the wash mashine.
She was a great sport about it, we rode home (MeiMei always insists on being in my lap on the tram but in this case she stood, thankyouverymuch!) and got the girls into their pj's in time for the babysitter's arrival.
Another reason to go back to that park: The Sint-Annatunnel, a PEDESTRIAN tunnel under the river that kids love, ends up there too. And there's a restaurant adjacent to the playground that sells Antwerp's signature dish: mussels and frites. Some warm afternoon we'll have to have some and then let the girls go play while we watch them from the patio of the restaurant--it's all fenced together so there's no danger of the girls going too far away.

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