Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ahh... what to say.

Lots to catch up on and so little time... that is that my days here are now very limited and it looks like I am less than a month or right at a month from returning. I have so many thoughts and feelings that it makes it tough sometimes to really just relax and enjoy the last little bit that I have here.
Moving on to cathing everyone back up it really has been a whirlwind of the past week and a half. I have played 6 games and thrown in 3 of them. While on the mound I lost 2 and won 1. I know that I am speaking and somewhat defending myself but I really did face two of the best pitchers in the league and I thought that the games were competitive. In my first loss I really would love to take one pitch back. I gave up a 2 run homerun and we lost 3-1, and the game ended with us leaving the bases loaded when the shortstop made a diving play up the middle, flipped to second, Game Over! That game was a Saturday and I threw 157 pitches, which is a very high pitch count, but with the game that competitive I really did not mind. Three days later on Tuesday we had a game rescheduled and I again got the start. This game we lost 3-0 but it only lasted 6 innings. The other pitcher, the best pitcher in our league, carried a perfect game into the 6th when at that time the umpire called the game due to lack of light. (We do not have lights. So two very tough losses but they were both against the first and second place teams and as though I never like to lose, I was at least able to say that I gave it a run and kept the game close in both matches. Thats baseball. Today I got a chance to redeem myself and threw 8 innings and got the win.

Outside of baseball our house is back to full strength but will soon become at times empty as the two little kids start school full time on Monday. Cedric, (17) starts school full time this week. Sebas(18) is going to Spain for a week long baseball tourney for the Jr. National Team. My roommate and I are gone for at least three days in Amsterdam and maybe a few more if we join some other Americans on a camping trip in the Ardennes Region of Belgium. That trip seems fun and very inexpensive.

Now that the Olympics are over I think I took out 3 of the 4 days that the DNC was going on to stay up til 5 am to watch the events unfold live. I told one friend that I seriously was changing my sleep patterns for the DNC. I thought it was interesting but I am still in need to watch Obama's speech. Other than that I have been putting some good time into helping out the lady who is in charge of getting my ticket home, I think once I finish all that and everything is finalized I will get to enjoy the last few days here without anything to worry about. Hope all is well and enjoy the extended weekend back in the States.

Monday, August 18, 2008

1-0, 3-0, sight seeing and more.

It is scary to have to go back to your own blog to see where I am in my little adventure over here in Belgium. As I went back and read, I realized how much I have to tell.

Well the last time I really wrote seems so far away. So much has happened. First of all two days since my last post I traveled to Cologne Germany to pick up my roommate's girlfriend. He does not know how to drive a manual transmission so I am the driver, always. This does not bother me at all and I was happy to make the trip, but after we picked her up we all were quite tired and we had practice later that day so we decided that we would just make our way back to Antwerp and planned on maybe seeing a bit of Cologne on our return visit to drop her off. She got to be here for 10 days so for my roommate it was a sprint to show her as much as possible.

On 08/08/08 my head coach here got married. Although the actual wedding was for family only, they did have a reception and most of the team came, plus alot of the competion. My roommate and I had no idea before coming that we would be involved with a wedding so our wedding attire was not quite suits, but we managed to have enough to at least look representable. The reception was great, minus the fact that I could only understand about 20% of the speeches. The best man was American and only knows English. We had a great time and danced and enjoyed a great night. Oh and they do play Cotton Eyed Joe here, and I thought about how Joey would just be so proud. The night was a success except due to some scheduling changes the off weekend for baseball turned into a series. And I got the start on Saturday.

The game was played at the smallest park in Belgium and I thought that it might turn into a very high scoring affair, but it turned out to be exactly the opposite. It was another American match up on the mound and it proved to be a very good pitching duel. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 all the way to the ninth. We were the visiting team and scored on a ground out to second base. My arm has been given me problems lately but I felt good enough to go back out in the ninth to try and get the last three outs. I walked the leadoff hitter on a full count. Then in the process of getting two outs while intentially walking two guys I was left with the bases loaded. I managed to go 3-0 on the batter before getting a questionable strike call to get the count to 3-1. On the next pitch the batter luckily hit a slow grounder to end the game. Not the most ideal way to end a game, but sometimes "It's better to be lucky than good"

During the week I picked up a small constuction job for a few days. A teammate of mine was in the middle of doing two jobs and needed some help. One day I moved wood out of the house, the next day I was all alone and moved bricks from the second story down to the first. It was 4 hours of intense work, but the pay was good so I really could not complain. The final day all I had to do was help with wall paper removal, which was quite easy compared to the day before so I was happy.

Wednesday the Royal Antwerp Futbol Club opened up their season. My roommate, his girlfriend, and myself all went and met up with some of the guys on the team who are big fans. It was a great experience. I knew that soccer games here in Europe can be crazy so I was expecting alot. The stadium had lots of empty seats, but that does not really matter becuase all of the Hooligans still come out to all the games. From the beginning of the game to the end there was almost constant chants and cheers. Most of which are in English becuase RAFC is a sister club to Manchester United. The stuff they say is unbelievable, but accepted here at a match. Antwerp won 3-0. I hope to get back to at least one more match before I leave.

Thursday came and our practice was once again canceled due to rain so all that there was to do was to go out in the city. Friday was a holiday here so everyone in Atwerp had the day off. This means that the place was packed and was really fun.

Friday was Mother's Day in Atwerp. We got up on Friday and saw my host mom and the two little ones off as they were going on their summer holiday in Holland to go camping. We are at the house for two weeks and have to fend for ourselves but we have managed so far so cross your fingers! Just kidding, my host mom did alot of prep work before she left for food and I think she is more worried that we will starve or something, but we kept trying to tell her that we will make it. The club had a softball tourney on Friday so we went there during the afternoon and then went to a Mexican Resturant for dinner.

Saturday morning came quite early and one of our teammates said he would drive to drop off Ryan's girlfriend in Cologne with us. We made sure she got there in time and then we went into Cologne and checked out the Cathederal there. It was quite an amazing structure. We took some pictures but I am having trouble uploading them, so hopefully soon.

One of our supporters from the Club wanted to take us to Bastogne in the Ardennes region of Belgium to show us where the Battle of Bulge took place in WWII so we set it up that we would go today. We left Antwerp around 8:30 a.m. and made our way there. There is a muesem there that we went to and then took off around the country side to see some of the other small villages that were apart of the battle and saw Allied and German tanks that have been recovered and somewhat restored. The day trip was awesome. I think it would not have been something that we would have done if Harry would not have suggested it and taken us. I really enjoyed everything but I thought that the countryside was just as enjoyable to see as the war tanks. It was something so different than the city life that we see everyday. It was gave me more of a vision of what I really thought European country would look and feel like. Old brick buildings, people riding and walking the country and sheep scattered all over the place. A great experience.

I have been here almost two months and I am starting to feel that my days here are beginning to become numbered. I have enjoyed my stay here so much and feel that what I feel now is so bittersweet. I do miss family and friends back in the States but I do not want this to end. It looks like it will be harder and harder to make the playoffs unless we win the rest of our games and the second place team makes a mistake and loses a game when we are not playing them. I hope to enjoy the rest of my stay and soak up all that it offers. I hope to write again soon and hope that I can get some of these pictures posted.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Keep checking, I am tired now and had planned to blog, but I will try when I get up.

Hope all is well with everyone,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life is good.

Ok this is getting to be a very sorry disclaimer on my last few entries, but I truly do not like to just write on my blog for the sake of writting. Lately I have not found the time or the energy to write but I am ready again. I must thank my Grandma Harmelink (who's birthday it is today) for letting me know that it has almost been a week again since the last post.

Thursday we decided to visit the American Store and pick up some stuff. One thing that had sounded great to both my roommate and myself was some good ol' American Root Beer. Something that the Belgian grocery stores do not carry. My roommate is also a fan of BBQ sauce and so we were crushed to find out that the store was closed on that day. Determined we decided to return the next day. We went back and brought our little host brothers as well. The store is about the size of a small convient store, but has quite narrow asiles and when the two little ones are together they can create some commotion. I think we spent most of our time telling the two to stop running, to put stuff back and picking up bags of chips as the littlest one ran right into an endcap trying to avoid a kick from his brother. Oh well we got our Rootbeer and some other things. We were set to have mussles for dinner and we asked our host mother to pick up some vanilla icecream becuase we were going to introduce our family to Rootbeer floats. Dinner was great, Ingrid's sister and her husband joined us and afterwords Ryan and myself got dessert ready. But to our surprise it was not a big hit. They were not so keen on the taste of Rootbeer but did admit that they enjoyed it better as the icecream melted and mixed. I ended up eating double the dessert as to help finish Junior's as he only took one quick taste of Rootbeer and basically spit the stuff back out. I think we would have had more success of pouring a healthy dose of Stella over the ice cream. We played some board games out in the backyard after and had a enjoyable night.

Saturday was the big day as we had a full day planned. First it was to go watch some of the other teams play, then a BBQ at one of our teammates parents, and then my head coach's bachelor party. Everything went smooth. We saw a few innings of the game, had a wonderful time over at the BBQ and the Bachelor party was great. It was a small group of people and it really was not much different than most nights but it was a bit more organized and everything ran smoothly.

Sunday we went and watched more baseball and saw a game only last five innings but in those five innings the American throwing threw a perfect game and the score ended up being 20-0. My two older host brothers were away for the past week because of the Junior European Qualifier and they arrived home victorious as they swept the tournament and walking through every game except for the last in which they beat Great Britan 6-5.

Today was quite fun. My roommate and I got up and took a train down to the French part of the country to SHAPE airforce base. One of our teammates dad is in the U.S. Military and asked us to come see the base. We got to get a chance at some American food, products as well. I had Burger King for lunch. Went shopping in the grocery store on base and bought crunchy peanut butter, kool-aid, cream soda, sour cream and chedder chips, really all fattening things that you cannont find in the Belgian supermarkets. I also got 4 family packs of Pop Tarts, my host family loves them but cannot get them here so I stocked up for them. Oh yeah at all the stores there you can use the American Dollar and everything is so cheap, no tax! I got some stick deodorant and Crest toothpaste, two items that I have not found here yet. I actually was the happiest about the last items. It was cool to see the base.