At MuHKA

Visited the reopened museum of contemporary art in Antwerpen MuHKA this afternoon. Simon enjoyed a few graphical pieces, especially when allowed to take photos of them with my mobile.

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Three pictures taken by Simon:

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Definitions of “the Truth”:

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In the children’s “Salon”, we loved the survival-on-the-Moon game: you had to answer the questions about which items would help you survive on the Moon.

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Sinterklaas

An unexpected encounter in the Dutch Bergen op Zoom. Simon was so shy he went hiding nearly the whole time.

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Singing Sinterklaas songs with his sister Neva

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Neva asked Simon to read the letter Sinterklaas left her. It was written in difficult cursive, I was surprised Simon could read it well.

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Waiting for Sinterklaas on the Grote Markt square in Antwerp on Sunday

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Mixing spices and making the traditional pepernootjes (spicy cookies that resemble nuts)

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Saturn calling?

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This weekend we were at the Urania observatory again. We had been looking forward to finally seeing Saturn’s rings through a telescope (had observed Saturn in Southern France but didn’t have our telescope with us, and weren’t even 100 percent sure it was Saturn). But alas, after a month of clear weather the skies drew their curtain the very night we had been planning to poke them with a serous telescope. They said that if we don’t hurry up Saturn won’t be visible (at a time that the observatory is open) again until 2023. They said they might give us a call for an extra attempt, very sweet of them. Meanwhile, Simon enjoyed a Solar System film instead, where he found a couple mistakes (the film, not the Solar System).

The way to the Aquarium

Simon’s eternal love for invertebrates made sure he actually  enjoyed spending a short while at the Antwerpen Zoo this afternoon. He was glued to the aquariums with sea anemones and corals, going on and on about the overwhelming percentages of invertebrates among the animals, the echinoderms and the crustaceans. What surprised me was that he knew the way to the Aquarium after studying the map for just a couple of minutes. We’ve got a year-long pass to the zoo now, will try to keep it short every time as he gets exhausted easily and wants to get back home to his studying.

On having a best friend

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Simon’s best friend from Amsterdam came over to visit for two days, the only true friend who loves Simon dearly and whose friendship has already endured the distance and months of being apart. That is a lot when you’re 6 or 7. I watched them play together a lot. Even though Simon doesn’t seem to have developed the same ability to truly miss someone (of this he admits himself), I know this “having a best friend” holds a special place somewhere deep inside him and is important for him in its own way.

Probably the most exciting part of the visit was going to Het Steen, the oldest building in Antwerp, where there was a dark room for experimenting with light.

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Rendezvous with Jupiter

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Tonight was a big night: Simon’s first visit to a real observatory. He had not really been doing any astronomy in the past few months so we were wondering how much of the gigabytes on stars and planets he once stored in his operational memory actually remained there. It took him several minutes to dig out the correct file (on the Galilean moons), but after that initial hesitation when you would think he couldn’t even recall the names of the moons he suddenly blurted out what their sizes were as compared to Mars and Mercury.

This morning he confessed he had always been afraid of planetariums because he’d seen one actually take off into open space in a TV cartoon. Held him tight for most of the initial lecture at the planetarium tonight. The telescopes followed. I believe seeing Jupiter and its four largest moons, as well as our own Moon up close, made a lasting impression on him. We didn’t stay to see the Ring Nebula, it was getting too late.