Well, this Friday is JieJie's fifth birthday, and next week is the halfway point of our time here in Antwerp.
I still say I wouldn't live here long-term, as much as I am enjoying the day-to-day. People are nice here, it's easy to get around, the food is great, there's always something fun to see and do, but city life can be constraining. I miss my big back yard, our house, our neighbors and friends, and I am looking forward to getting all of that back. I realized the other day that I hadn't driven a car in two months, and have only been in a car three times since getting here...weird.
What's going to stay with me from our time here? A deep appreciation of the nuances of truly great chocolate making and eating...a love of beatiful wrought iron work...the plan we have to see how long we can get by with only one car and the bus system back home...wanting to try a gorgeous crystal chandelier in an otherwise casual room...being reminded how good a fresh loaf of bread can be...loving train travel.
What I'd like to leave here: JieJie's mad days, MeiMei's whining, my inability to listen to more than one person at a time when three people are all trying to tell me Something Really Important and my head feels like it's going to implode. It's so odd, but this small apartment has made the girls' clinginess (justified of course by the fact that so much is unfamiliar) seem so much more ludicrous. They want me (daddy's no good, apparently) right on their beds with them to fall asleep, and fight over whose bed I'm sitting on. They want me to sit next to them at meals, they want my lap on the tram, they want me to dress them, feed them like a baby...it's hard on them sometimes, which makes it hard on me and on John, who does his best to insist that Mommy Can't Do Everything, or (my favorite) "Mommy delegated this job to Daddy."
Still worth it? Ultimately, yes (who knows what the girls will say?). But there is about a half-hour of every day when I just want to run around like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.