Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Ben

Update from Valerie:
Yesterday afternoon the swelling on Ben's face started
to come down. The doctor came by this morning and
noticed as well. He said if the swelling continues to
come down when he checks on him tomorrow, then Ben can
go home tomorrow! :-)

Ben eating a turkey croissant.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

News from Valerie and Richard

Ben does not look too happy.From Valerie:
Ben had surgery on his face and hand yesterday, and it
went well per the surgeon. He said he drained some
pus and clear fluid.

Ben's right side of his face continued to swell
through the night. His right eye is almost swollen shut.

The doctor came by this morning and noticed the face
swelling is still increasing, and said he could not go
home until the swelling goes down. He ordered an
increase of the IV antibiotic he is currently getting
as well as adding an additional antibiotic.

The hospital should have the blood tests back tomorrow
so we know for sure what we are dealing with.

I called CareNow this morning as they did a swab test
on his hand on Saturday and are suppose to have the
lab results back today, they don't have them yet, but
will call my cell when they get them. They just
called back while I was typing this email, and the
preliminary results came back negative - no growth -
no bacteria in the hand. He said the final results
normally don't change but can. Not sure what to think
about this due to his continued swelling.

Ben doesn't act like he is hurting at all. He is just
playing and running around like usual, as well as
pushing the nurse call button whenever we turn our
heads, probably like 30 times since we have been here.
They don't seem to mind too bad.

Last night they had to take blood from him twice. He
didn't like it at all. Now if anyone comes in the
room, the nurse, doctor, the person delivering food,
he cries. He thinks they will hurt him. :(

More when we hear more.

Our Ben

As of 430PM Texas 1030PM Belgium, Ben was out of surgery and doing fine per Richard. He said more information to come

Monday, October 29, 2007


Very sad news. Ben is in the hospital with an antibiotic resistant staph. It is apparently in his hand and cheek as a cellulitis that is not responding to therapy yet. He will have surgery soon to debride and drain the areas especially on his cheek as they are fearful of spread into the brain. He is on his second bag of antibiotics. Richard has gone home to get Val's laptop and some items for her as she will be staying with him. We all want to be with her. But here we are far away. Ben is a good brave boy, but he is not even two yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brugge closes on Sunday

We went out to the flea market and discovered that what was being fleaed was not to our taste. We also discovered that 90% of Brugge is closed on Sunday. Don't run out of groceries. Cyndi is on a roll with cooking and made a lovely potato leek soup using a bit of Piet's Kippen Bouillon (see her blog). Bill and Jon won't be back from Tabor until late this evening. So the house is quiet. All are reading or napping.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday Market

I caught the Saturday market today at what I call Bicycle Square not far from the house. Cyndi and the kiddos had gone out on their errands. I wanted to try a new direction and was looking for an optical shop further from tourist central. I got my newer glasses, which were damaged in the fall, repaired for free in a nice shop and then noticed that the Square was filled with stands selling everything. I bought another scarf and a purse. I am trying to upgrade to semi-stylish with my new coat. I found a list of the various Market locations and days so we will not miss anymore.

Wednesday (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) on Market square (food)
Saturday (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) on 't Zand square and on Beursplein (food and non food)
Sunday (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) on Ten Briele (food and non food)
Fish market: Tuesday through Saturday, every morning.
Flea market along Dijver and at Fish market: Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. (15th March-15th November).

It was great watching the cyclocross race on TV so clear. Some of the post race commentary was even in English. Great views of Jon at the start. He is progressing well and was mentioned in the race stories in both VeloNews and CyclingNews.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Jon and Bill got up at about 5AM to make a flight to Tabor in the Czech Republic for a World Cup race. All racers at World Cup races have to have their entries processed through the USA Cycling association. And of course they have a real cretin handling that task for the riders--a new real cretin. First of all the riders have to submit forms to USA Cycling for each World Cup race long in advance. Then USA Cycling has to submit the names to UCI (the international organization) by a certain date. First the cretin was late with the names. Then she submitted all the same names as were entered at the first World Cup in Kalmthout even though only Jonathan Page and Jonathan Baker had submitted to go to Tabor. The UCI authorities threatened huge fines even against the riders. Then the cretin submitted Jonathan Page and Jeremy Powers (who is racing in Louisville KY this weekend, per his blog). Now there are no Americans on the Entrants List even though Jon has an email from UCI that says he is entered and we know Jonathan Page is planning to race. Such a much. I think USA Cycling needs to rehire and give no second chances. I just hope it works out and Jon races as much money has been spent to get him there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

News about Ben

I just got an email from Valerie with news about Ben. I'll just post it here.
Ben started Preschool last week at the First United Methodist Church
of Allen. They offer a excellent program, and came recommended by a
friend as well as an online preschool review. I was lucky to get Ben
in, as the day before I called, one of the toddlers had moved and
there was an opening for Ben! He goes just one day a week, which is
just perfect for me right now. His class is Thursdays from 9-2 during
the school year. He is in a special class for toddlers who are 18-23
months from Sept.

I plan on doing no-stop cold calling for work while he is there. I
was doing this when they called about 12:30 last Thursday to inform
me that one of his eyes was swollen almost shut and his face was
covered in hives, I took him to the doc, and she said it was allergy
related, but we are unsure of the exact cause this time. I really
needed not to give him an antihistamine due to allergy testing
scheduled for today. Well the hives went away within an hour and the
puffy eye was back to normal the next day. (he has never had the
puffy eye thing before) The doc also diagnosed him eczema, I got some
hydro cortisone cream and it really helped a lot.

So today we went to the allergist and got poor little Boo all
scratched up on his back with multiple potential allergens. Poor
little guy is allergic to a lot. He has been diagnosed with severe
allergy to peanuts and all nuts, and was given a prescription for a
few EpiPen Jr.'s for emergencies. He rated as Grade 4+++ for peanuts
on a scale from 0-4. Items rated as Grade 2, 3, or 4 (with 4 being
the highest) generally indicate significant clinical sensitivity
(positive evidence of allergy). With Foods, he also rated Grade 4
for Milk and Soybeans; Grade 3 for Egg and Fish Mix; Grade 2 for Nut
Mix and Shellfish Mix. He also rated Grade 3+ for Oak; and Grade 2
for Cedar Mountain and Grass Mix. He rated well for Tree Mix, Weed
Mix, Mold Mix, and Cat with a Grade 1; as well as with Wheat, Rice,
Dog, Dust mite, and Cockroach with a Grade 0; which shows no evidence
of allergy for these items. Poor little Boo, you should have seen
his back. (Richard took a photo if you really want to see) He also
needs to have a more comprehensive blood test done in one month.

Other then that, Ben is doing great! He loves to count everything.
He counts to two ALL the time, and sometimes to three. He loves to
swing on the big kids swings now, and go down the real big slides all
by himself!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

News in Brugge

People had asked us if Leah was going to go to school here and it got to sound like a good idea. Cyndi found information on what Belgium schools were like and we did a search in the golden pages and found a primary (lagere) school just around the corner. We went to visit and fell in love with the opportunity. She will have a special teacher to teach her Flemish (aka Dutch) and will begin in a small regular class of 10 students. The school is international with students from all over the world, but she will be the only American in the Primary grades. She will have gymnastics lessons, swimming lessons and, in January, ice skating. They have school parties and a special school Christmas party with St Nicholas and Swartze Pieter visiting. The school is called Basisschool Sint-Jozefsinstituut. It is a free Catholic School with students ranging from kindergarten through high school on Zilverstraat just 0.2 km from the house. Leah is very excited about going to school and has already been introduced to the other students who look very friendly. In keeping with the general subtlety we had walked nearby and never knew the school was there. I am including some pictures from the school's web site at
Some older boys chalking a greeting at the closed door of the school prior to opening. The school is 3 stories like most buildings.
A student walking to school (just outside the front door)
Leah's future class/classmates on the second floor

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Day at the Races

Frites (fries) with a large dollop of mayonnaise, 2 euro bier (beer), and flags of Flanders. The crowd was huge. Jon says we need to wear jackets with "Supporter Jon Baker" on the back, so we are making plans.
Jon found the course challenging, but improved throughout the race. They had a weird call up and he started near the back and unfortunately remained there. Leah did the photos and took some good ones. Axel found a friend at the end, another baby his size, but 15 months old.
Jon before the World Cup at Kalmthout
2 Euro Beer

Flags of Flanders
Leah got a great shot of the leader/winner Zdenek Stybar.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Walking Tour #2

Today Jon and Bill were off to the races. Jon did great coming in 19th. This was a small race , but big names were there such as Nys, Vervecken, and Wellens. Jonathan Page was also there. He came in 14th. Bill had to do all the pit crew work as Proctor was not there. Bill did a great job.

Soon after they took off the rest of us went off for a walk around Brugge. Cyndi had a guide book with planned walks so we did walk #2. I am getting a bit more familiar with the area despite the streets that meet at odd angles, plethora of tiny alleys and street names that change frequently.

Leah had the camera and would have taken lots of pictures, but I had neglected to charge the battery.

We saw canal boats full of tourists, a dog peeing place labeled as such, lots of horse carriages, a wagon pulled by a draft horse, and odd old picture plaques that indicated former uses of buildings. The one above the old 1600 almshouses (now apartments) was of a pelican suckling its young on its blood which was a symbol of charity.

We happened upon the Vismarkt (fishmarket) which is a series of stone stalls built in 1812 and used as a combo fish market and craft market. Cyndi bought mussels and a fancy washcloth with a fancy soap.

We then found the Folk Museum. Very interesting with well done displays of crafts people most around the turn of the century. cobbler, hatter, cooper, baker, tailer, etc. Then headed for home as the baby was getting tired.

Leah and I went out to look for toy stores, discount stores and found almost nothing we were looking for. She found a hot wheels car that she bought with what was left of her allowance after she lost about 1/2 of it.

I went out again to Blokker and found lots of things ( a butter dish, a box for the baby's toys and a pencil box for Leah) and then stopped and picked up bread and milk and headed home.

Including some pictures of the Markt Square and Canal that Leah took with my camera.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Birthday in Brugge

Today Leah and I went out to find the library (De Biekorf) in Brugge. We discussed afterwards how things in Belgium are subtle, understated, hard to find. We had specific directions and walked past it 3 times. We finally stopped for the second time in an apothecary for directions and still would have walked past it if we had not seen some children coming out. We managed to get Leah a library card from the children's librarian ( a probable softer touch than a regular librarian). The selection of children's books in English is limited, but all about her reading/interest level. We also got a book for learning Dutch.

On our way home we stopped for waffles again and saw some High School kids making a video. We asked them about it and they said it was about bullying. We watched for a while, but they looked like High School kids anywhere. Much more interested in taking up a lot of school time rather than getting serious about completing their project. So we went in the grocery store for a few items and saw a young children's activity book in Dutch which we got. Also as we were leaving some men were selling items to benefit children with cancer. One of the items was another activity book in Dutch, so we got that. When we came out the high school kids were still "hard at work" eating ice cream now. The High School is just around the corner from us, but if you did not see the kids pouring out you would never know it was a high school. Another subtlety.

This evening we went out to dinner at the Old Brugge restaurant. We had a lovely meal. I had Eel in Green Sauce which was fantastic. Then we came home to a lovely strawberry tart. I got chocolates from William and a beautiful and fanciful scarf from the Boulder Baker's.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quirks of living together in a new house

Leah and Axel
So this AM Jon went for a ride and took the bike storage area key. Wm fussed because he wanted to go out. Then when he went for a ride this afternoon he took the bike storage key. Jon had wanted to ride out for a bike part and was frustrated so now they are even. Cyndi went to the Cobbler/Key shop and got more keys. Jon and Bill are out now working on a bike. Jon will be supported at both races this weekend by Geoff Procter who runs the cyclocross camps here. He hopes dad will be able to assist also and learn more about pit work in Belgium.
Leah and I did math today (she also blogged and sent a letter to her class) and then went shopping again, to the apothecary to buy a pack of band aides, to the bakery to buy bread and cookies, and to the small supermarket for a variety of items. We bring and pack our own bags. Then we stopped at the wafel shop for a wafel natuur (plain waffle).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We are just starting to get settled in. The baby is still really jet lagged and awakened a few times in the night. So we got up late. It was close to noon before we all got out of the house to go to the Wednesday Farmer's Market in the market square. Some shops were packing up but we managed to buy some lovely vegetables and cheese. We stopped at a bakery and the local grocery store on the way home to finish stocking up.
I forgot to mention that the Belgian sunshine was liquid today and the baby kept pulling off his pretty green boots. The first time we hadn't seen the deed and Jon and William set off to look for them. Right after they left, a lady who had found the boots brought them over. Then we were missing Jon and Grandpa for a while.
Leah, Axel and I stayed home while Grandpa and Cyndi went out to deal with some electronic issues. Good thing I brought the old faithful Dell as it has not given any problem. I think soon they will email Richard with all the details. He will say click here and do this and that and all will be fixed.
Jon went out for a training ride and is back now to discover that there is no hot water. This is something new as I had hot water for a shower last night and William was OK this AM. Cyndi is emailing the landlord about the water and maybe about the promised maid service. Usually Christophe's mom does the house cleaning, but she says she gets too nervous cleaning with people around. So he is looking around. He said maybe the woman who cleans his office would be willing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Home in Brugge

We were to have taken possession of the Brugge house at 1600 yesterday but Christophe's mom was still cleaning, so we wondered around a bit more. See me at a great Bicycle statue.Casa Brujas bottom
Casa Brujas top
The house looks all new inside as if it has been recently remodeled. I went by myself to the grocery store this AM and was a little slow packing up my groceries. So I self deprecatingly
said the first thing that came to mind (they already knew I was an English-speaker) Ich bin nicht schnel sp. I am not fast in German and got a smile. We are waiting for the Boulder Baker's to show now. They said they would be here prior to noon and it is 11:59. Delays are inevitable. Hope their delays are not too bad.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The Trip to Brugge

Saturday was a misty rainy day in Edinburgh. We checked out and took the local bus to near the bus station where we stashed our luggage in a locker until time for the bus to the ferry at 14:15. We walked up to the Nelson Memorial and around in the indoor Mall next to the train station. We also caught the Blake exhibit in the National Gallery.

Me at the Nelson Memorial. The rain was warm and misty.

I tripped and fell as we were boarding the ferry. There was an unmarked lip from the boarding ramp as it turned a corner onto the car ramp and I just did a header. William took lots of pictures.

Wounds and Sunset

The trip was otherwise uneventful and we took a bus and then a taxi to the Hotel Leopold. We went out walking this afternoon and tried to get familiar with some of the streets around Beenhouwersstraat. Next to the house is an old chapel that has been turned into a gallery and a house that was having a children’s party downstairs. We walked around the nearby park that has a bit of child’s play equipment. Some children were playing and a little boy pointed at Bill and said opa (grandpa pronounced oopa). His mom corrected him, but I thought it was cute. We found the bank in the Markt and looked around the square.

Markt Square at Brugge, our new home

Friday, October 12, 2007

Still in Edinburgh

Up on top of the National Museum in the Terrace GardenWe spent much of the day in the National Museum of Scotland looking at the history of the Scotsand then went to a local museum called the People’s Story.

Some thoughts about the Scottish People:

When we drove through the Highlands we saw miles of hillsides with only grass, bracken fern and sheep and population only in the small towns. There are a lot of reasons for this. First the ancient people had cut down all the trees, and animals had kept forests from regenerating. So you had a bare land. There was a clan system with the chief as the head of the clan and land held in common. The English were firmly in charge of Scotland after the covenant of 1707 was signed. By the mid 1700’s the clans were outlawed and the chiefs were encouraged to think of themselves as landed gentry and owners of the land. As owners they were encouraged to develop the land to its best use and so the clansmen (now reduced to poor tenants) were moved off the land to the shore to work in various enterprises such as kelp harvesting for the chief or were encouraged to emigrate while the land was turned over to sheep. Many moved to the cities to live in horrid crowded rooms and work in the new industries of the Industrial Revolution. Today only about 5 million people of Scottish descent live in Scotland and over 25 million people who claim Scottish ancestry live around the world.

One of my ancestors.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today we began our day by hiking up Arthur's Rest. Quite a hike and quite a wind.After we returned the car to the downtown train station, we spent most of the rest of the day in the Edinburgh castle. William in the guardhouse.William in the POW dungeon.
Me in St. Margaret's Chapel
A view of the castle on the rocks.
The front gate with William Wallace on the Right and Robert the Bruce on the Left.

We spent the rest of the early evening walking on the Royal Mile, a shopping street. I wanted to walk in the park, but the security said that as there are no lights in the park they close and lock it at 6PM.
Prior to the year 1800 the park was Nord Loch which functioned as the town sewer, water reservoir and as a handy place for drowning witches.

Drive across Scotland

Oct 10th
We learned a lot about the Scots at the Glencoe Visitor Center and the Folk Museum. Note the low roof made of heather.Lunch was at the edge of this beautiful lake at Glencoe, Lochan.
U-shaped glaciated valley.

On to Oban in Scotland

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Today we drove from Kesick to Oban in Scotland. We took a walk around Loch Lomand on the way.William on a style
We stopped at to view some Scottish tree farming. They grow conifers like corn. Cut down and replant. Since they do not have to worry about fire they just leave the slash in place.Once we arrived we took a walk around the quay in Oban. We took pictures of a ruined castle at the end of the quay.

The Lake District

Monday, October 08, 2007

Today we went for a drive in the countryside around Kesick. We took the small road to Buttermere and stopped to photograph sheep on the way.

We stopped at the Honister Slate mine. There has been a slate mine here at least since Roman times. It has been recently reopened and incorporates the tourist aspect like the 16 to One Gold Mine near our home, along with commercial slate mining.

There are so many different kinds of sheep here and all cute but dumb. We got out to walk on a National Trust trail and a man was selling National Trust memberships out of a van. This is one of the ways the trail and landmark system is subsidized. You get free car parking and free admission to places where there is an admission fee.

The trail we walked on was around Buttermere Lake. It had just stopped raining and was misty and damp on the trail. We saw a huge black slug, lots of mushrooms, leaves turning color and falling and bracken fern turning brown. We ate our bit of lunch and started back when Wm saw a side trail up to a small waterfall on Sour Milk Gill.

Next was Newlands Pass, Moss Beck and Moss Force. Wm is here with Moss Force in the background.

Castlerigg Stone Circle. Not as big or impressive as Stonehenge, but still nice.

To Kesick

The rest of the day we spent driving to Kesick in the Lake District. We mostly were on large Motorways (Freeways) although we did do some of the trip on narrow roads where you drive as fast as you can on narrow 2 lane roads with old stacked rock walls hemming in both sides of the road right at the edge of the road. Very thrilling. When we were on the roads that were one lane with turnouts with the stacked rock walls at the edge, Wm drove much slower and almost crept around the corners. We saw lots of shaggy animals, short round-faced shaggy and horned Highland cattle and shaggy long-tailed sheep.

William is checking out the sheep.